House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) on Wednesday slammed Democrats for wanting to censor conservative media outlets after they sent a letter to cable, satellite, and streaming companies pressuring them to combat “disinformation.”
“In all my time on this committee, there’s never been a more obvious direct attack on the First Amendment,” McMorris Rodgers in opening remarks at an Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing on Wednesday scheduled by Democrats to address “disinformation and extremism in the media.”
She called it a “hyperpartisan hearing to shame and blame” and Democrats’ efforts to censor conservative media “like actions from the Chinese Communist Party.”
“I’m not only disappointed in this hearing, I’m deeply troubled by it,” she said, adding:
Every journalist, from MSNBC and CNN, to the New York Times should be concerned by the majority’s actions. And anyone who values free speech and a free press should be worried. Elected officials using their platform to pressure private companies to censor media outlets they disagree with? That sounds like actions from the Chinese Communist Party. Not duly elected representatives of the United States Congress.
Here we cherish free speech and a free independent press. We believe in dialogue and in the battle of ideas. Rather than censor and silence constitutionally protected speech, the answer is more speech. That’s the American way.
McMorris Rodgers asked Democrats whether CNN should be censored for hosting New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), whose response to COVID-19 may have directly resulted in nursing home residents dying.
“For months, media lauded him and legitimized his lethal response to COVID-19. He even won an Emmy for his use of TV to spread misinformation,” she said, pointing out that a balance of networks uncovered misinformation by Cuomo.
She also asked if MSNBC should be carried “after years of pushing the false Russia collusion narrative.”
“Thanks to independent journalists and a robust free press, we’ve learned the reporting was false,” she said. “It’s un-American when you’re setting control for you to redefine for yourself what is true.”
She blasted attempts to censor free speech as part of the “woke authoritarian system” pervading American culture:
Now more than ever we must uphold the First Amendment. It states Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. It’s unique to Americans. It’s been fought for. It’s been defended. It’s foundational to our personal rights and liberties. We should all be troubled by what appears to be an attack on the First Amendment. It’s an abuse of power. Ours is a country for we the people, not a few in a position of authority dictating to the rest.
Today the media is the target. But where does it end? We’ve already seen liberal ideology pushed in our schools, where we work, the books we read, who we communicate with, how we practice our faith. It’s frightening.
People are afraid of a woke authoritarian system that is getting them fired, canceled, and shamed. And so they’re being silenced. They have no voice. They can’t trust the broken institutions to protect them. This culture of fear is unjust. And this committee should not be using this committee to force everyone to be the same or be destroyed.
“It’s abuse of power and it’s a force of a state religion of liberal ideology. I embrace all of us to embrace our fundamental rights that lie at the foundation of a free government by free men,” she said.