At BASEDPolitics, we don’t have to tell you that consumers prefer independent media outlets. I mean, look where you are.
But the democratization of information and expansion of tastemakers does not sit well with everyone—namely politicians who want to be able to control the official narrative. That’s a lot easier to do when there are two to three primary news sources and information is centralized.
But don’t worry, consumer satisfaction is basically Senator Amy Klobuchar’s bat signal and she’s rushing in yet again with her old weapon of choice: antitrust.
As we’ve discussed ad nauseum here at BASED, antitrust is a trojan horse. Politicians claim they use this trick to protect capitalism, increase competition, and bust monopolies. But that is literally never how it’s actually used and hasn’t been in decades.
Instead, antitrust is the mechanism politicians use to give preferential treatment to companies they like, force other companies to act as politicians wish (especially when politicians lack the constitutional authority to mandate such behavior changes), and to target their enemies.
Klobuchar’s latest antitrust bill, S. 673— Journalism Competition and Preservation Act of 2021, is no exception. In short, this legislation would give legacy media the opportunity to violate existing antitrust laws (because laws only exist to target people we don’t like at the moment, duh) and go after social media companies with collective bargaining agreements that would force them to pay for their content.
Why is this bad? One need look no further than a recent example in Australia where similar legislation took effect. Facebook responded by simply blocking all Australian news content from its platform rather than pay out. If you’re the New York Times, that wouldn’t be the end of the world for you. But for independent journalists, from us here at BASEDPolitics to independent writers at Substack, the inability to promote one’s content on social media giants would be knee-capping.
But that’s the real point, don’t you see. They want to shut up the people they can’t control—the Joe Rogans of the world whose audiences have passed 10 million while CNN primetime can’t crack 500,000. As the Computer and Communications Industry Association has warned, this bill would allow news publishers to operate like a cartel—securing lucrative deals for themselves that block smaller competitors from the market altogether.
The real losers here would quite obviously be the American people who want and need real time, independent reporting that social media platforms and independent journalists can provide. Klobuchar wants to knock us back to the stone ages where we have to wait for the evening network show and a spoonful of indoctrination to get our nightly news.
Her latest antitrust angle is as bad as all of her others. It’s a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the First Amendment rights of citizens and independent news creators and as crony capitalist as they come. Maybe if she herself took in a wider range of sources she’d realize just how out of fashion her ideas actually are.
Hannah Cox is a fellow at NetChoice, a group that seeks to make the Internet safe for free enterprise and free expression.