- The Washington Times - Monday, January 31, 2022

Is it any wonder that one of the few issues that brings Republicans, Democrats, conservatives and liberals together these days is hostility to Silicon Valley’s overwhelming reach into almost everything that goes on in this country?

Conservatives are outraged as what they see as Big Tech’s hostility to conservative views and the subtle and less than subtle ways Facebook, Google, Twitter and the rest are making it more difficult for conservatives to communicate. For the longest time the mandarins of the ether denied any intention of silencing those with whom they disagreed, but that time has passed. 

Canceling or “de-platforming” views not widely shared within their community has become not just a now-and-then occurrence they can blame on “algorithms.” The crusade against anyone who disagrees with the liberal politicians they support is now too obvious to deny. 

The government itself isn’t constitutionally capable of closing down media outlets for political reasons. 

The First Amendment is a bar that many liberals would like to rewrite, and they have managed to persuade those who haven’t given the matter much thought that the world would be easier to live in if those with whom they disagree can somehow be shut up or made to simply go away.

Where government cannot censor, Silicon Valley does. Corporate big wigs can do what the Bill of Rights forbids of the Biden White House, the FCC or Chuck Schumer and his friends. 

Except under extraordinary circumstances, private entities are free to censor political speech. Unless the business refuses to bake a cake for a gay marriage ceremony, they can usually decide whom they will or won’t serve or sell to. That doesn’t matter much if, say, a tavern owner tells his customers that if those who disagree with him want to discuss politics they should drink elsewhere. Some of his customers may find that obnoxious, but it’s his right and doesn’t seriously threaten the free discussion of ideas so important to the maintenance of a democratic society. Besides more tolerant taverns are not hard to find.

However, when the owners of large platforms supposedly open to public discussion become the way millions of Americans share and debate political issues, denying access to those the owners of such platforms don’t like has profound consequences and threatens the very foundations of a free society. And that is precisely what the “woke” corporate owners of such platforms are doing. It began with Facebook, Google and Twitter, but now the satellite carriers of cable news are ridding themselves of customers whose views they find abhorrent.

Questioning the government and prevailing liberal views on COVID-19 to election integrity or police reform will in today’s world get one labeled an “extremist,” “conspiracy theorist” or a purveyor of “misinformation” and “fake news.” The owners of these huge corporations are persuaded that theirs is the one true faith and like the organizers of the Spanish Inquisition are dedicated to quashing dissenters.

Their latest target is One America News, a conservative news network based in California. OAN’s contract with DirecTV runs out in April, and the carrier has announced there will be no new contract. Since a huge percentage of the infantile but growing network’s revenues come through viewers who gain access to OAN via DirecTV, the carrier is throwing out a conservative news outlet simply because DirecTV’s owners disagree with OAN’s content.      

DirecTV and CNN are both owned by AT&T. CNN is safe because DirecTV’s owners agree with the “news” the network spouts, which is hostility toward conservative issues and an unbending hostility toward anyone who has anything good to say about former President Donald Trump. OAN’s many sins include a bias against the Biden administration and big government. That Mr. Trump has tweeted that OAN is his favorite network couldn’t have helped, as the keepers of the gates at DirecTV discussed letting the tiny network grow into something as powerful as, say, Fox News over time. 

Liberals wish they had killed Fox while it was in its infancy and aren’t about to make that mistake again. Thus, DirecTV wants to kill OAN in its crib while they can. In fact, liberals lobbied DirecTV to do just what it is now doing.

Facilitating a healthy discussion of differing viewpoints is the hallmark of a free society, but that’s something that the folks in the Silicon Valley, like the liberals whose politics they support, just don’t understand.

OAN and other conservatives must hope that Congress and the courts do.

• David Keene is editor-at-large at The Washington Times.  

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