Democrats questioning cable, satellite, and streaming providers about carrying conservative news programming are fueling modern day McCarthyism, says legal scholar Alan Dershowitz.
Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., and Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent letters to providers pressing the companies on why they carried networks such as Newsmax. The lawmakers said such networks provided “misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm.”
“What they’re doing is they’re taking the playbook right out of [Sen.] Joe McCarthy[R,Wis.,] in the 1950s,” Dershowitz told co-hosts Bob Sellers and Heather Childers on Tuesday’s “American Agenda.”
“McCarthy and people from the House Un-American Activities Committee would write letters to TV networks saying exactly what this letter said. ‘Why are you having so-and-so on the air? He was once a Communist? Why are you having so-and-so? He once represented a Communist. He once went to a meeting.’ So they establish what was then called ‘red channels,’ a book, a blacklist, of any television stations that dared to have anybody from the Left on the air.”
Congressional Democrats have targeted right-wing networks following the November election, and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot by demonstrators protesting the election outcome.
Dershowitz cited the film “The Front” as one example of showing what occurred under McCarthyism, an effort to expose alleged Communist infiltration of the U.S. government.
“Now the shoe’s on the other foot,” Dershowitz said. “The Left, particularly the hard Left, these Congressmen from Silicon Valley that have an agenda to protect these social networks, they’re taking it right out of the McCarthy playbook.
“They’re trying to threaten without being seen as threatening, but the threat is as clear as can be in the letter. ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you allowing these people to remain on your satellite and cable platforms?’ If you take them down you don’t have to explain but if you keep them up you have to explain. It’s just McCarthyism rearing it’s ugly head once again, 70 years after we thought it was dead and buried.”
Dershowitz said lawmakers could make life difficult for the cable, satellite, and streaming providers by doing such things as threatening antitrust violations.
“You don’t want to be on the wrong side of members of Congress. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the FTC. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of the administration,” Dershowitz said. “So, self-censorship becomes a very common response to this kind of pressure.”
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