The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) is set to kick off tomorrow in Washington DC with prominent name guest speakers and various conservative-centered panel discussions that will undoubtedly spark outrage and handwringing by left-wing talking heads. Like every year, they have quite a bit to discuss, from extensive tech censorship to the weaponization of the federal government.
A recent move by DirecTV to cut Newsmax from its service is rumored to have a fair amount of time allotted to it. With former President Donald Trump as one of the guest speakers and a fair amount of his campaign team in attendance, it is no wonder. Putting aside the Trump campaign’s affinity for the network, the discussion is worthy as the concerning trend of silencing opposing political views has picked up steam over the last few years.
So for those of you who have cut the ties of cable and DirecTV long ago in favor of streaming services, let’s review what happened to Newsmax a little over a month ago and what might be discussed later this week at CPAC.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) February 16, 2023
Last month DirecTV announced it was cutting Newsmax from its service to save money. It’s no wonder, with more and more families like mine switching to streaming, the traditional cable business needs help to maintain its relevancy.
DirecTV’s argument for cutting Newsmax was an allegation that the network was demanding “excessive fees” that would cost “tens of millions” of dollars for DirecTV. However, Newsmax argues that just isn’t true.
According to Newsmax, they were asking for $1 per cable subscriber per year, which is among one of the lowest fees requested in cable. Meanwhile, as Newsmax is cut, DirecTV continues to carry 22 left-leaning channels.
A fair amount of these left-leaning channels have lower ratings than Newsmax, and all receive license fees. If you were a business looking to cut costs, you’d cut channels with lower ratings and keep the ones that are doing well…such as Newsmax.
Interestingly Newsmax isn’t the first conservative channel that DirecTV has cut recently. The AT&T owned business also cut the One America News (OAN) Network.
My, that’s awfully suspicious.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) February 27, 2023
The Trump Outlet
Political strategist Dick Morris on Newsmax’s Saturday Report bets that a lot of chatter at CPAC this week will focus on the network’s censorship.
“I’ll bet that about 20% of the audience out there has been cut off by AT&T, and by DirecTV, and can’t watch Trump on Newsmax,” said Morris.
Morris also pointed out the service Newsmax provides that others do not, saying “You see the issue here is that Fox does not cover Trump; Newsmax does.”
Morris called out Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch’s bias against the former POTUS as a key reason for his lack of coverage on the network, saying “He refuses to mention his name. You’ll hear the coverage, and there’s DeSantis, there’s Pence, there’s all the other people, but never Trump.”
He continued, stating “the only vehicle Trump has for getting his information out there to the American people — and talk about what he’ll do as president — is Newsmax.” As someone who watches a peppering of all news outlets, including Fox News and Newsmax, Newsmax covers Trump more extensively; however, to say that Fox News doesn’t cover Trump at all is a bit of hyperbole.
The issue of Newsmax getting cut from DirecTV for dubious reasons still raises a valid concern; the increased public and private acceptance of political censorship.
DID YOU KNOW?: @NEWSMAX is the 4th highest-rated cable news channel in U.S., and the 16th highest-rated cable channel overall for daytime viewers.
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) February 27, 2023
A Dangerous Marriage
After the removal of Newsmax, over 40 Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to DirecTV stating that in addition to the OAN removal, “taken together, these two actions lead us to believe that DirecTV…is actively working to limit conservative viewpoints on its system.” I generally roll my eyes at any strongly worded letter from a politician, let alone a group of them, so I remain pessimistic that anything with real teeth will come from that note.
However, perhaps the best description of what this move from DirecTV illustrates came from Republican Presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who has said “There’s this new hybrid of corporate power and state power that together is doing what neither one can do on it’s own.”
Ramaswamy explains, “This is the invisible fist of government, using companies like AT&T through the back door to get done what government could not get done through the front door under the Constitution – censor disfavored viewpoints.”
After DirecTV announced its decision to cut Newsmax, Morris said “The interesting thing is that censorship is no longer a government action; it’s a private action,” adding that “They don’t control the Supreme Court, they don’t control the House of Representatives” therefore leaving the left to use the corporate world to push their agenda.
Morris summarizes that “What they can do is use the power of the marketplace to stop us from projecting our message, and that’s what they’re trying to do by cutting off Newsmax from those outlets.”
In any democratic society, free speech is essential.
Sadly DirecTV does not agree and wants to censor conservative voices.
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) February 23, 2023
In addition to the letter from Republican lawmakers, DirecTV received a letter from CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp, which stated that “The cancelation of Newsmax is another example of woke CEOs, tech oligarchs, government bureaucrats, and left-wing activists have engaged in information warfare to silence those with whom they disagree.” So it’s fair to say that at least some discussion on this controversy will occur at CPAC this week.
In fact, according to the CPAC schedule, it has its own hour allotted for it on Thursday. The discussion titled ‘Death by Dish’ will feature Matt Schlapp and the CEO of Newsmax, Chris Ruddy.
In a world where information is power, and the control of that information is lopsided and increasingly centralized within government, we should all be interested and concerned with what happened to Newsmax, whether we are active viewers or not.
As Tulsi Gabbard said of the move, “Democracy means not just tolerating opinions we don’t like, but actively defending their right to exist.”
It’s comforting that at least one person understands the principle behind free speech.
Dick Morris is 100% correct. The upcoming #CPAC conference will feature many conversations about big tech/big media censorship of conservative media in America – especially @DIRECTV @ATT's censorship of @NEWSMAX! @CPAC @CPAC_TV https://t.co/KzKQIdfdZT
— Bryan E. Leib (@BryanLeibFL) February 27, 2023
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