Rep. Eshoo bristled at Republican concerns about government officials investigating broadcast media with the aim of deplatforming disfavored networks. “I call them lies,” she said of the content described by Ms. Urquiza. “I don’t know what you call them. You call that the open market, something that’s competitive?” Rep. Marc Veasey said he saw a tension between “the freedom of speech versus other peoples’ safety.”
Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone generously conceded that the First Amendment protects speech that is “controversial” but distinguished “misinformation that causes public harm.” Apparently Mr. Pallone wants someone, perhaps the government, to determine what constitutes public harm and when speech causes it. Would two years of false Democratic narratives about Russian collusion with Mr. Trump qualify as public harm? How about apologias for riots in the streets last summer?
Progressives seem to believe that they are in a position to dictate the terms of what is acceptable speech in a more controlled media environment. As committee witness Emily Bell of Columbia Journalism School put it, “there has to be a will among the political elite and the media elite and the technology elite to actually do the right thing, as it were.” That means tightening speech restrictions. To borrow another progressive cliche, this is a dog whistle for tech companies and other businesses to censor or block conservatives if government can’t.