We assume, since you’re reading a BASEDPolitics article, that you like independent media. You’re not alone in that.
In a 2021 Gallup poll, only 9% of Americans said they trust the mass media. That distrust has been more than earned, from covering up stories like Hunter Biden’s laptop, to running water for the intelligence community, to an egregious bias on the coronavirus response—the mainstream media has proven itself to be prejudiced, slanted, and less than ethical in its reporting. Due to that, an increasing number of Americans are turning to non-traditional media outlets to get their information.
And that has the mainstream media shooketh.
Has that made them want to change? Do better work? Examine themselves? No.
Instead, they’re using the oldest trick in the book and looking to Congress to crush their competitors via the Journalism Competition and Protection Act of 2022 (JCPA).
Per usual, the bill’s name is an indication that its contents do the direct opposite of what it promises. As we detailed here a few months ago, JCPA is just another flavor in Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s box of poison antitrust chocolates. It purports to be concerned with “fixing” competition, when in reality it is meant to crush the plucky independent rivals of the mainstream media.
It does this by allowing companies like the New York Times to join with other media companies and form collective bargaining agreements that will force social media platforms to pay them for clicks. You know who that works really well for? Large old dinosaurs in the media with plenty of money and power to negotiate, and without a pressing need for organic social media traffic. You know who that doesn’t work for? Independent journalists, start-ups, nonprofits, and podcasters who will be left out of these negotiations, and who cannot command a pay-per-click entry fee to garner new views on their content.
This is intentional. Government actors liked it when there were just a few media outlets Americans could go to for information. Those companies and their employees were pretty easy to control, mislead, or garner favor with. Not so as we merge into the democratization of information free flow where anyone with a Twitter account can be a news source.
This bill seemed to be dead on arrival a few months ago (because it’s hot garbage). But in a desperate move, both Republicans and Democrats in Congress are working to tack it onto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This is a common end-of-year party trick for politicians. Because the NDAA is, politically, very difficult for politicians to vote against, they often tack pet projects they can’t get passed any other way onto it to slip them through.
Antitrust is not capitalism and the last thing we want is more collusion between Big Tech, the government, and mainstream media.
Good riddance to JCPA. pic.twitter.com/f4wwOYx73m
— Hannah Cox (@HannahDCox) September 8, 2022
Netchoice, a free-market trade association for tech companies (where I am a Fellow), is just one of many groups speaking out against this legislation.
“The JCPA threatens an independent media by providing specific news outlets with government privileges that will likely increase the government’s ability to pressure such outlets on editorial decisions,” said NetChoice President and CEO Steve DelBianco. “The legislation will harm free speech online by creating a special class of media preferred by the government, while isolating other media outlets that some lawmakers don’t like, including conservative ones.”
DelBianco continued, “We need to protect an independent media, not undermine it by rushing through crony legislation with minimal scrutiny. The media’s bright future will be created through innovation, not crony capitalism like the JCPA.”
The mainstream media deserves to die, or at the very least be forced to change by market pressures. They aren’t doing their jobs and giving the American people the information they need to adequately participate in their political system.
I get there's nostalgia around newspapers, but they've dug their own graves.
JCPA is about controlling the source of information, favoring large media companies over independent outlets, and protectionism for industries that deserve to die because they failed to compete.
— Hannah Cox (@HannahDCox) September 8, 2022
The JCPA is a life raft that threatens to overturn the lifeboat independent media provides for Americans.
Hannah Cox is a Fellow at NetChoice.