Two Democratic members of Congress from Silicon Valley have written official letters to cable and satellite carriers urging them to shut down conservative TV channels.
These letters are reminiscent of those written by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and his henchmen back in the early 1950s urging television networks and Hollywood studios to drop suspected Communists or leftists. (Remember the movie “The Front”).
Thus, the shoe is now on the other foot — It’s the left that is trying to censor the right — but it’s causing just as many callouses on our First Amendment.
All decent people who care about freedom of speech, without regard to right or left political viewpoints, must stand strongly in opposition to the censorial pressures being exerted by these benighted members of Congress.
Nor are these two alone.
Congressional committees are now meeting to discuss ways of dealing with “disinformation and extremism in the media.”
As with McCarthyism, this attack on free speech is directed only against one side of the political spectrum. This time it is focusing only on conservative news media.
The letter from the members of Congress ends with a veiled threat, “Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, One American News Network and Newsmax on your platform both now and beyond the renewal date? If so, why?”
In their letter, the two members of Congress: Reps. Anna G. Eshoo, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., complain only about “right wing media outlets.”
Not a word is said about left wing media outlets: CNN and MSNBC.
Those networks deny their viewers facts and information that might influence their decisions in a nuanced manner.
CNN is especially guilty of doctoring videos, editing soundbites, distorting the truth, and presenting one-sided diatribes.
But this doesn’t concern Eshoo and McNerney because CNN presents their side of the narrative. “Free speech for me but not for thee,” seems to be their approach.
They would like to see network cable Television become the Democratic Party’s “Pravda.”
And like the Soviet Union, they would like to take down all opposing views and deny them access to cable and satellite carriers.
They ignore the provision of the Bill of Rights which prohibit Congress from making any law or taking any action that abridges the freedom of speech.
A letter from two members of Congress on official congressional stationery to satellite and cable carriers, carries the imprimatur of government.
Holding one-sided hearings focusing only on “right wing media outlets” constitutes a direct threat to these carriers.
As William Safire once put it, “Every American has the right to complain about the trash on TV – except Uncle Sam.”
The most dangerous aspect of what these members of Congress are doing is that they surely believe they are acting in the interest of truth, liberalism and the American way.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Left wing censors are as dangerous as right wing censors.
Left wing McCarthyism is as immoral as right wing McCarthyism.
Well intentioned censorship is even more dangerous than censorship that is overtly motivated by evil intentions.
As the great Justice Louis Brandeis cautioned us a century ago, “The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”
Newsmax and Fox should challenge any congressional hearings dealing with the contents of their programs.
They should refuse to answer questions from Congress regarding their news gathering or presentation.
The government has no business being in their news or editorial rooms.
The First Amendment protects them from such unconstitutional intrusions.
Not only should Fox and Newsmax fight back against these efforts to control and censor them, so should the satellite and cable providers that carry them.
In the golden era of the First Amendment— from about 1960 to 2000 — the ACLU could be counted on to take up this battle. Don’t hold your breath.
The current ACLU prioritizes partisan politics and especially hatred of anything Trump over freedom of speech, especially conservative or pro Trump speech.
They have gotten very rich based on this shift in priorities, because too few Americans believe in free speech for thee as well as me.
So all Americans who care about our shrinking first amendment must take up the cudgels and fight for our liberties.
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Alan M. Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law Emeritus at Harvard Law School and author of “Guilt by Accusation” and “The Case Against the Democratic House Impeaching Trump.” Read Alan Dershowitz’s Reports — More Here.