The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) was rescued from oblivion yesterday after Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) worked with Democrats to save it, based on the false claim that the media and Big Tech are opposing together. But, as Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have pointed out, nothing could be further from the truth.
The media cartel law, Blackburn said in her initial critiques of it, gives “even more power to the mainstream media” and Silicon Valley.” More recently, she said the bill “declares the liberal media” and Silicon Valley to silence conservatives.”
sen. Marco Rubio has similarly said that the bill “opens the door to greater collusion between major media and major technology.”
These criticisms expose a fundamental weakness in a key argument of JCPA supporters, including Senator Cruz. According to them, the media and Big Tech are opposing each other.
In fact, the two entities have been working hand in hand for years to suppress independent media and control the flow of information on behalf of elites. The JCPA, which would allow the media to form a joint negotiating unit to work with Silicon Valley, is exacerbating that long-standing trend.
There was a time fast approaching the outer limits of generational memory when the New York Times and UKTN and other such media titans had to compete on a level playing field with independent creators.
If an independent creator got a million views overnight, that blogger would probably be on the front page of relevant Google searches and at the top of your Facebook feed.
Videos by independent creators recording from their parents’ spare rooms are said to routinely outrank UKTN and NBC in YouTube’s search results.
Ordinary users could start Twitter hashtags and elevate them in a meaningful way, giving ordinary people an unprecedented influence on the national conversation.
For a moment, it seemed as if the slow, centralized dinosaur brands of the legacy media were destined for the dustbin, surpassed and surpassed by tens of thousands of independent voices.
That moment, which spanned the first half of the 2010s, now seems like a distant memory. Why? Because Big Tech colluded with Big Media to manipulate the playing field.
It doesn’t matter if content from UKTN and the New York Times is less popular organically than content from independent creators. Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube force it on your front page regardless of the organic momentum.
Google and Facebook do this through their prominently displayed news tabs, where only carefully selected sources are allowed to appear.
Twitter does it via the ‘what’s happening’ tab. Previously a list of trending hashtags that were purely driven by user activity, but now it forces your content from carefully selected “authoritative” news sources, along with a few hashtags that aren’t deemed worthy of suppression.
And YouTube simply adjusts its search results when the old media complains.
In addition, every major platform now employs armies of partisan “fact-checkers”—a sort of digital stasi that seeks out alternative news sources and identifies criminals so the platforms can then suppress them. The tech companies aren’t even trying to hide that this ecosystem is a tool for the old media companies to stifle their competition: USA today, for example, is a Facebook fact-checker.
It is against this backdrop — years of collusion between Big Tech and Big Media to stifle competition from the latter — that Republicans like Ted Cruz have lent their support to the JCPA, which is a license for even more conspiracy. It is a supreme betrayal of voters who want the discredited legacy media to be replaced, not saved.
Perhaps the Republican senators who support this bill hope that their voters are now simply impervious to betrayal. It would be a dangerous gamble to play so close to the midterms.
Allum Bokhari is a senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.