Who doesn’t like The Wall Street Journal? Especially its editorial and opinion pages. It is in this space a must morning read for conservatives.
But every once in a while it goes off the rails, leaving one to wonder if they were written by the office intern. Or an envious competitor.
The latest along these lines is an editorial about the epic battle launched by AT&T and its DirecTV subsidiary against NewsMax. And yes, full disclosure, I am a NewsMax contributor.
As the world knows if paying attention, AT&T pulled NewsMax from its DirecTV cable offerings – making NewsMax the second conservative cable outlet to be silenced by AT&T in a year, the other being One America News Network (OAN).
To say the least, this WSJ editorial was a mash-up of startling misrepresentation combined with a political “gee-whiz naiveté” (to borrow from a dictionary definition.) And, as would be expected, NewsMax has answered the WSJ in this article here.
And it also clearly needs to be mentioned – and isn’t – that the WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation – which in turn owns Fox News. It is surely certain that the Murdoch empire views NewsMax as a Fox News competitor. Disappointingly the WSJ never acknowledges this. Rather it says: “The Fox News channel, where these pages have a news program, is also a Democratic target.” Well, yes. But the tie between the WSJ and Fox News is seriously deeper than a mere television show. The WSJ and Fox News are both central building blocks in the self-same Murdoch-owned News Corporation. There is not a thing in the world wrong with that – but in an editorial of this type that is a key “full disclosure” fact that needs to be mentioned to give readers a better understanding of the driving force behind the editorial.
You would think the reaction to NewsMax from Fox would be God bless America and let free competition roll!
Like millions of Americans, I like Fox News and have appeared on it in the past as news dictated. And as well, I have been published on the WSJ Op-Ed pages.
So let’s run through this editorial piece by piece in this space.
The WSJ editorial begins by saying this:
“Bashing business is in political fashion, and more than a few Republicans are joining the progressive pastime. Witness the conservative pressure campaign against satellite provider DirecTV, which is in a carriage dispute with the right-leaning Newsmax network.”
To say “more than a few Republicans are joining the progressive pastime” of “bashing business” is decidedly misleading. To call out Twitter, for example, which is essentially a high tech town square, for its then-employees – leftists all- deliberately, willfully censoring, silencing and de-platforming all manner of conservatives including the then-conservative President of the United States is hardly “bashing business.” NewsMax has stood up repeatedly for free speech – which is doubtless exactly why the liberals who run AT&T and Direct TV want it gone from the public square.
WSJ: “DirecTV last month dropped Newsmax from its channel lineup after the two parties failed to agree on licensing fees. Carriage disputes over fees are common and sometimes result in channel blackouts. But they are fundamentally no different than other contract negotiations between businesses.”
Fact: In the words of the NewsMax response:
“First, the dispute is not over a fee price. AT&T, the 70% owner of DirecTV, is claiming Newsmax should get zero fees while all other U.S. cable news channels get them. Newsmax, the fourth highest-rated cable news channel, according to Nielsen, believes it is being discriminated against.”
Not mentioned by the WSJ: The politics of the people who run AT&T and its role in all of this. The Board of Directors of AT&T has eight members, five of whom have ties to either or both former Presidents Clinton and Obama or other Democrats. Which is to say the board is run by those who despise conservatives in general and the conservative NewsMax in particular.
There is more – far more – to this de-platforming. None of which is even acknowledged by the WSJ.
WSJ: “We take no side in this business dispute, and it’s bewildering why many Republicans are getting involved. Forty-two House Republicans last month wrote a letter to DirecTV executives and its joint owners, AT&T and TPG, threatening to investigate the TV provider for colluding with the government to suppress conservative voices.
Sens. Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee and Tom Cotton piled on this month with a letter suggesting DirecTV may have dropped Newsmax because of “pressure from administration officials or Democrats in Congress” and “may be the latest example of big business suppressing politically disfavored speech at the behest of liberal Democrats.”
Their evidence? A letter from Democratic Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney to AT&T CEO John Stankey last February calling for the company to combat misinformation spread by conservative news networks. A letter from two Democratic Congress Members, which was also sent to other TV providers, doesn’t add up to a vast leftwing conspiracy. The Fox News channel, where these pages have a news program, is also a Democratic target.”
The WSJ says “We take no side in this business dispute, and it’s bewildering why many Republicans are getting involved.”
To the contrary, the very fact that the WSJ has gone out of its way to attack a competitor of a sister company in the News Corp? That is taking a side.
And that letter from Democrats in Congress who sit on the regulating House Energy and Commerce Committee?
That would be pretty significant evidence all by itself of what the above mentioned Republican Senators correctly call “the latest example of big business suppressing politically disfavored speech at the behest of liberal Democrats.”
And there is more evidence than that, evidence decidedly ignored by the WSJ.
Has the WSJ not heard of the Global Disinformation Index? Has it not read the blockbuster series on this very subject from The Washington Examiner? The first in the series headlined:
Disinformation Inc: Meet the groups hauling in cash to secretly blacklist conservative news
The story began by reporting this:
“EXCLUSIVE — Well-funded ‘disinformation’ tracking groups are part of a stealth operation blacklisting and trying to defund conservative media, likely costing the news companies large sums in advertising dollars, a Washington Examiner investigation found.
Major ad companies are increasingly seeking guidance from purportedly “nonpartisan” groups claiming to be detecting and fighting online “disinformation.” These same ‘disinformation’ monitors are compiling secret website blacklists and feeding them to ad companies, with the aim of defunding and shutting down disfavored speech, according to sources familiar with the situation, public memos, and emails obtained by the Washington Examiner.
…The Global Disinformation Index, a British group with two affiliated U.S. nonprofit groups sharing similar board members, is one entity shaping the ad world behind the scenes. GDI’s CEO is Clare Melford, former senior vice president for MTV Networks, and its executive director is Daniel Rogers, a tech advisory board member for Human Rights First, a left-leaning nonprofit group that saysdisinformation fuels ‘violent extremism and public health crises.’
‘It’s devastating,’ Mike Benz, the State Department’s ex-deputy assistant for internal communications and information policy, told the Washington Examiner. ‘The implementation of ad revenue crushing sentinels like Newsguard, Global Disinformation Index, and the like has completely crippled the potential of alternative news sources to compete on an even economic playing field with approved media outlets like CNN and the New York Times.’”
On the heels of this was another Examiner GDI story. It reported this, bold print for emphasis supplied:
“But GDI, which did not reply to several requests for its exclusion list, discloses in reports which outlets it identifies as the ‘riskiest’ and ‘worst’ offenders for peddling disinformation. These 10, which all skew to the right, are the American Spectator, Newsmax, the Federalist, the American Conservative, One America News, the Blaze, the Daily Wire, RealClearPolitics, Reason, and the New York Post.”
And with all of this uncovered and out in the open the WSJ says” “A letter from two Democratic Congress Members, which was also sent to other TV providers, doesn’t add up to a vast leftwing conspiracy.”
Hello? Hello? The WSJ is somehow blissfully unaware there is infinitely more going on here than just that letter from two Democrat leaders in Congress demanding NewsMax (and OAN and Fox) be de-platformed?
It is a fact – not a “vast leftwing conspiracy theory” – that NewsMax – and The American Spectator (where I am a contributing editor) and other conservative outlets – are being targeted in a massive campaign to underfund and permanently silence them. The House Democrats are not in this racket alone – far from it.
And to add insult to injury there is this from the WSJ’s sister publication The New York Post, bold print for emphasis supplied:
“‘The ‘Global Disinformation Index,’ or GDI, is a British organization with a pair of US nonprofit affiliates. It receives hundreds of thousands of dollars from the State Department’s Global Engagement Center and the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy.”
Hello WSJ? The Biden administration has been using the Department of State to fund the so-called ‘Global Disinformation Index’ (GDI) which is, among other things, trying to shutdown NewsMax by defunding it with pressure on its advertisers. And the WSJ sees no problem with that? Really? Can you imagine – can you imagine! – if the US government were using taxpayer money to target Fox News? Or the Journal itself?
In fact, with the Washington Examiner series out there and an uproar from House Republicans, the National Endowment for Democracy has now decided it will no longer be funding the GDI. Good.
And lest the reaction of NewsMax to being targeted be seen as some sort of stand alone? Back there in the stone age of the Obama administration, the Obama White House turned its sights on Fox News – and unsurprisingly Fox News, like NewsMax today – fought back.
This New York Times article in the day (written by future CNN liberal media reporter Brian Stelter) quotes none other then Roger Ailes, then the CEO of Fox, as saying of Obama White House attacks on Fox
And Fox’s willingness to fight back against the Obama White House: “Don’t pick a fight with people who like to fight.”
The WSJ also goes out of its way to attack Chris Ruddy, the founder of NewsMax, saying that because he supports President Biden’s “progressive Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn” that “it’s an odd sort of conservative who supports a left-wing nominee who wants to be a speech regulator.”
There is nothing odd about Chris Ruddy paying attention when Sohn says the following, as reported by NewsMax:
“Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s nominee for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission, told a Senate Committee Tuesday that the agency should investigate AT&T DirecTV’s “deplatforming of Newsmax,” which she described as “very troubling.”
During hearings for her nomination before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the liberal Sohn openly questioned the deplatforming of conservative networks Newsmax and OAN by AT&T’s DirecTV.”
But since the WSJ brought up the idea that “it’s an odd sort of conservative who supports a left-wing nominee who wants to be a speech regulator” – then a reminder is needed.
Does the WSJ not remember this headline from May of 2006 in The New York Times? https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/10/nyregion/10hillary.html It read:
What’s in a Murdoch-Clinton Alliance? Something for Both Sides
The story reported this:
“WASHINGTON, May 9 — Strengthening a pragmatic rapprochement, Rupert Murdoch has agreed to give a fund-raiser this summer for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the latest sign of cooperation between the conservative media mogul and the Democratic lawmaker who has often been a prime target of his newspaper and television outlets.
Asked about her relationship with Mr. Murdoch, Mrs. Clinton described him as simply “my constituent,” and she played down the significance of the fund-raiser. Both sides said that Mr. Murdoch and Mrs. Clinton were joining forces for the good of New York, where Mr. Murdoch’s $60 billion News Corporation employs about 5,000 workers.”
Note well that the WSJ did not run an editorial saying of the Murdoch support for Hillary that “it’s an odd sort of conservative who supports a left-wing nominee who wants to be a speech regulator.” Nope. There was not a peep about that.
It would seem an obvious point: that Rupert Murdoch and Chris Ruddy should be held to the same standards when protecting their respective companies from opposition politicians and bureaucrats.
What this editorial really shows is that the WSJ has a problem standing up in support of free speech and old fashioned competition. To which the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin would apply.
As the Declaration of Independence was awaiting signatures from the delegates to the Continental Congress in 1776, some members were hesitant to go the last mile and separate from Britain – a move that would certainly be seen by the British as treason.
To which Franklin is said to have responded:
“We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
The hard fact of the matter here is that conservative media is under attack – and has been for years. Past targets have included Rush Limbaugh, Lou Dobbs, Glenn Beck, Fox hosts Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham and Fox News itself.
This time around the target is NewsMax.
Amazingly – sadly – the Wall Street Journal doesn’t get it, and instead is not willing to stand up for a Fox competitor. Rest assured, if NewsMax vanished – Fox would be next.
Again, the wisdom of Ben Franklin: Conservative media must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”