October 6, 2022

Senator Ted Cruz introduced a proposal at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the JCPA on September 8 that temporarily forced Democratic co-sponsors to withdraw the bill.

If it’s a dream. Cruz set out to expose the Democrats’ motivation for censorship, and he succeeded. But inexplicably, he has now agreed on a new amendment with Senator Amy Klobuchar that enables and facilitates the very censorship he supposedly opposes.

The basic 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 services.

When Senator Cruz successfully inserted an amendment to the mocked media bailout bill that limits the scope of those negotiations to a price, it exposed the pro-censorship motives of the bill’s Democratic supporters.

Its lead sponsor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), withdrew the bill from consideration, preferring to limit the media cartel’s ability to demand that big tech companies censor their competitors.

Inexplicably, conservative icon Cruz defected to Klobuchar to secure a backroom deal to ease the passage of the JCPA through committee without fixing any of the bill’s key structural censorship (or other) problems. The deal is the kind of DC swamp creature maneuvering that Cruz has been berating Republicans for since he joined the Senate.

In the process, Klobuchar discovered that the JCPA was never about saving mythical small-town newspapers: it was about cementing the power and influence of established media companies while stifling their independent competitors on social media.

Even with the Cruz-Klobuchar amendment, the JCPA still allows for censorship and excludes media competition.

There are various ways in which the law, as currently written, allows a media cartel to exclude competitors from the benefits of negotiations with technology companies.

As previously reported, the draft law authorizes media companies to exclude members based on virtually any criteria.

Via Breitbart News:

Specifically, the new JCPA contains a provision that allows “eligible” media companies forming a cartel to “create criteria for admission to membership unrelated to the size of the qualified digital journalism provider or the views expressed by its content, including criteria to limit membership to only qualified publishers or only qualified broadcasters.”

That provision is significant especially because of its specificity. These mainstream and left-wing media cartels may not exclude based on size or “views expressed in their content.” But exclusion does not and will not happen that way.

These self-proclaimed mainstream and left-wing media cartels are allowed to exclude based on the usual, completely subjective factors they always do, such as: “reliability,” “fake news, “extremism,” “disinformation,” “hate speech,” “conspiracy “, “correction policy”, “expertise”, “authoritativeness”, etc.

While the Cruz-Klobuchar amendment may limit formal negotiations between the media cartel and Big Tech to a price, there is no way to prevent the effects of the informal ties that will develop between cartel representatives and companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter. An already corrupt relationship, in which big tech companies voluntarily commit billions of dollars to support corporate media, is about to become corrupt – something Senator Cruz knows.

Of course, the Cruz-Klobuchar amendment doesn’t even attempt to address the myriad other anti-publisher and cartel-enabling provisions of the law, such as impossibly problematic arbitration and litigation provisions.

For example, the law provides that a cartel can force a Big Tech company into price-fixing arbitration. But in any such proceeding, the Big Tech company will have an inherent advantage—having all the relevant algorithmic and competitive information, not to mention more money, resources, and lawyers to fight the arbitration.

Big Tech will struggle to reveal any financial or algorithmic data, and how should media companies protect their competitive and proprietary information and data from each other in such a process? It’s an impossibility and a conundrum that JCPA sponsors are either blind to or don’t care about—no, they just want to push through a poorly conceived and structured bill.

What is the remedy for a media company excluded from a cartel? Well, he can sue in federal district court to be included. It will cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars and expose all kinds of confidential and proprietary data to one’s competition.

The built-in respect for an excluded media company in its pursuit of such a “cure” cannot be overstated – assuming for a moment it has the resources to even have fun doing it. After all, the whole supposed purpose

JCPA is to help financially crippled local news. It is sophistry to think that these financially crippled local news outlets would have the necessary money and resources for such struggles.

It is for these reasons that Senator Cruz’s actions constitute such betrayal. Both he and Senator Klobuchar have presidential ambitions and they are on full display here. Both will walk away from the JCPA table trumpeting the mantle of bipartisanship to advance their personal agendas. However, Main St. Americans, as usual, will be left behind, with even fewer sources to turn to for news not under the control of Big Tech censors. In fact, the news media will only become beholden to Big Tech if the JCPA passes.

Allum Bokhari is a senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author #DELETED: Big Tech’s battle to wipe out the Trump movement and steal the election.

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