WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Energy and Commerce Republican Leader of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH5), and Energy and Commerce Republican Leader, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA5), led Energy and Commerce Republicans to urge Acting Chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Jessica Rosenworcel, to preserve and protect fundamental freedoms that are protected by the First Amendment.
The Communications and Technology Subcommittee is held a hearing focused on disinformation and extremism in the media. Representatives Latta, Rodgers, Brett Guthrie (R-KY2), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL12), Bill Johnson (R-OH6), Billy Long (R-MO7), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2), Richard Hudson (R-NC8), Tim Walberg (R-MI7), Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA1), Jeff Duncan (R-SC3), John Curtis (R-UT3), and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ8) sent a letter prior to the hearing to FCC Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel to demand she denounce attempts by government officials to use their power to threaten a free press. Latta also provided an opening statement during the hearing, which can be found here.
Excerpts of the letter are below. The complete letter can be found here.
“As Acting Chairwoman of the Commission, it is incumbent upon you to use your position to preserve and protect our fundamental freedoms that are protected by the First Amendment. You can, and must, denounce any attempts by government officials to use their power to threaten a free press at such an important time in our Nation’s history….
“House Democrats’ recent actions directly contradict their prior stance on the importance of protecting broadcasters and opposing government-sanctioned censorship. Just last year, Chairmen Pallone and Doyle sent a letter to the FCC stating that it ‘has a duty to provide clear guidance to broadcasters and the public that threats by politicians about protected speech will not influence the agency or broadcaster licenses.’ Unfortunately, now that Democrats control Congress and the Executive, House Democrats apparently no longer agree. Recently, House Democrats sent a letter to 12 Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) disguised as “oversight” but clearly designed to pressure these companies to block certain conservative media outlets.
“Your own words on this matter sum it up best: ‘Governments that threaten to chill speech can discipline private sector actors without changes in law ever becoming necessary.’ House Democrats’ recent actions are troubling, and directly contradict your long-standing public view not to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine. Given our need to protect free speech, viewpoint diversity, and reliable journalism during the global COVID-19 pandemic, we ask you to stay true to your beliefs in the face of blatant attacks on our fundamental principles.
“We demand you stand on the side of free-speech and an independent press and publicly express your opposition to reinstating the Fairness Doctrine immediately. We also request that you denounce the recent attacks on the First Amendment by House Democrats and provide us a written response outlining in detail the steps you will take to uphold your prior commitments to free speech and a free press and how you intend to protect these principles. At one point, House Democrats used to care about upholding the First Amendment. As the Acting Chairwoman of the FCC, we expect you to lead and make clear to all Americans that you stand for a free press….”