All of these commentators should refamiliarize themselves with the First Amendment, and then follow up with a closer reading of the laws and Supreme Court decisions that have shaped the interpretation of that basic right, as well as the FCC’s regulatory authority. They might also consider that their own jobs depend upon the social acceptance of free speech as a value. The tools of authority, once taken up on the left, will inevitably tempt a response from the right.
First, whether Kristof, Boot, and Giridharadas realize it or not, they are calling for more powerful concentration of corporate power over the country’s cable television news. AT&T owns WarnerMedia, which owns CNN. Comcast owns NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC. Charter Communications owns Spectrum News, a slate of regional cable channels, including NY1. If any of those cable carriers stopped carrying Fox News, they would be in violation of FCC rules prohibiting them from giving preferential treatment to their own outlets.
The folly of this is illustrated by Oliver Darcy, CNN’s “media reporter,” declaring “it is time TV carriers face questions for lending their platforms to dishonest companies that profit off of disinformation and conspiracy theories.” He fumed that AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Charter, and Dish did not respond to his questions. In other words, a CNN employee is angry that the parent company of his employer isn’t taking action to shut down one of his competitors.