On September 8 at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the JCPA, Senator Ted Cruz introduced a proposal that temporarily forced the Democratic co-sponsors to withdraw the bill.
If Senator Cruz intended to expose the Democrats’ pro-censorship motivations, he succeeded. But inexplicably, he has now agreed to a new amendment with Senator Amy Klobuchar that enables and eases the very censorship he claims to oppose.
The main concept of the JCPA is to allow media companies to form a legal cartel in the US, with the sole purpose of negotiating with the tech giants for special favors.
When Senator Cruz successfully introduced an amendment to the derided media aid bill limiting the scope of these negotiations to price, he exposed the pro-censorship motivations of the bill’s Democratic supporters.
Its lead sponsor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), preferred to withdraw the bill from consideration rather than limit a media cartel’s ability to demand that Big Tech companies censor their competitors.
Inexplicably, conservative icon Cruz deferred to Klobuchar to secure a backroom deal to ease the JCPA through committee without resolving any of the core structural (or other) censorship concerns with the bill. The deal is the kind of D.C. swamp creature maneuvering that Cruz has chided Republicans for since he joined the Senate.
In the process, Klobuchar discovered that the JCPA was never about saving mythical small-town newspapers: it’s about cementing the power and influence of established media companies by crushing their independent competitors on social media.
Even with the Cruz-Klobuchar amendment, the JCPA still enables censorship and shuts down media competitors.
There are many ways in which the bill, as currently written, allows the media cartel to exclude competitors from the benefits of negotiations with technology companies.
As previously reported, the bill empowers media companies to exclude members based on almost any criteria.
Via Breitbart News:
Specifically, the new JCPA contains a provision that allows “qualified” media companies forming a cartel to “establish admission criteria for membership unrelated to the size of a qualified digital journalism provider or the views expressed by the content of thereof, including criteria to limit membership to only qualified publishers or only qualified broadcasters.”
This provision is particularly important for its specificity. These mainstream and left-wing media cartels cannot exclude based on size or “views expressed by its content.” But the exception does not happen or will happen like this.
These self-appointed mainstream and leftist media cartels are allowed to exclude based on the usual, entirely subjective factors they always do, such as: “credibility,” “fake news,” “extremism,” “disinformation,” “hate speech “. , “conspiracy”, “corrective policy”, “expertise”, “authority” etc.
While the Cruz-Klobuchar amendment may limit formal negotiations between the media cartel and Big Tech on price, there is no way to prevent the effects of informal ties that will develop between cartel representatives and companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter. An already corrupt relationship, in which Big Tech companies willingly pay billions of dollars to prop up the corporate media, is about to become more corrupt – something Senator Cruz knows.
Of course, the Cruz-Klobuchar amendment doesn’t even attempt to address the bill’s host of other anti-publisher and anti-cartel provisions, such as the extremely problematic arbitration and litigation provisions.
For example, the law provides that a cartel can force a Big Tech company into an arbitration proceeding to determine the price. But in any such proceeding, the Big Tech company will have the natural advantage – possession of all the relevant algorithmic and competitive information, not to mention more money, resources and lawyers to fight the arbitration.
Big Tech will fight to reveal any financial or algorithmic data, and how are news media companies supposed to protect their competitive and proprietary information and data from each other in such a proceeding? It’s an impossibility and a conundrum that JCPA sponsors are either blind or don’t care – no, they just want to pass a poorly conceived and poorly structured bill.
What is the remedy for a media company excluded from a cartel? Well, it can sue in federal district court to get involved. Doing so will cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars and expose all kinds of confidential and proprietary data to one’s competitors.
One cannot overstate the built-in respect for an exempt news media company for pursuing such a “cure”—assuming for a moment that it has the resources to even entertain doing so. After all, the whole purported purpose
of the JCPA is to help financially crippled local news. It is sophisticated to think that these financially crippled local news outlets would have the money and resources to wage such fights.
It is for these reasons that Senator Cruz’s actions represent such a betrayal. He and Senator Klobuchar both have presidential ambitions and they are on full display here. Both will leave the JCPA table trumpeting the mantle of bipartisanship to push their personal agendas. However, Main St. Americans will be left behind as usual, with even fewer sources to turn to for news that is not controlled by Big Tech censors. In fact, the news media will only become more devoted to Big Tech if the JCPA passes.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Ease the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.