For the Framers, the survival of the republic depended on a free press that would tell the voters the truth about their elected officials without fear or favor. As Thomas Jefferson succinctly put it, “Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.” In Jefferson’s era, the press was made up of myriad independent publications that espoused a wide range of editorial viewpoints and competed with one another for readers. Thus, it would have been difficult to limit press freedom without an overt and heavy-handed government crackdown on disfavored publications. The dramatic transformation of the media landscape in our era has, however, made it much easier to censor content.
First, the trend toward consolidation in the media industry has had a profound effect on who controls media content. According to this report in the Motley Fool, as much as 90 percent of U.S. media is owned by the following six companies: Comcast, Disney, AT&T, Paramount, Sony, and Fox. More sinister is the Trusted News Initiative (TNI), a global coalition of news organizations, social media and Big Tech firms whose ostensible goal is to tackle harmful disinformation. Its members “alert each other to high risk disinformation so that content can be reviewed promptly by platforms, whilst publishers ensure they don’t unwittingly share dangerous falsehoods.” The list of TNI members will give you the creeps:
The Trusted News Initiative is a partnership, founded by the BBC, that includes organizations from around the globe including; AP, AFP, BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, European Broadcasting Union (EBU), Financial Times, Information Futures Lab, Google/YouTube, The Hindu, The Nation Media Group, Meta, Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Twitter, The Washington Post, Kompas – Indonesia, Dawn – Pakistan, Indian Express, NDTV – India, ABC – Australia, SBS – Australia, NHK – Japan.
During his opening statement to the July 20 meeting of the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. described TNI as a “news censorship cartel.” He went on to describe how it actually operates: “Whenever non-mainstream online news publishers report facts or viewpoints deemed by the TNI to be ‘misinformation,’ TNI members censor, shadow-ban, or deplatform those publishers.” Fox News reports that Kennedy’s organization, Children’s Health Defense, has filed federal lawsuits in Texas as well as Louisiana against various members of TNI alleging that their censorship activities constitute a clear violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act.
R&I – TP