The New “Big Three”
20 Aug 2020
“Congress gave these [Big Tech] guys special powers so that they could create companies so that people could go and use the internet. It was supposed to be an open public square … where everyone, as long as they’re following the law, they can … participate in that public square. What’s happened here is that Facebook and Google and Twitter are partisan hacks for the Democratic Party and the left… They’re deciding who gets to go into the public square.” — Rep. Devin Nunes (R, CA), video via Real Clear Politics, 7/26/20
“[Bill Barr] intimated that he hopes to use antitrust law to punish tech companies for censoring conservative viewpoints… [T]his accusation is false, and [besides,] tech companies would be entirely within their rights to so discriminate if they chose.” — editorial, Bloomberg, 7/7/20
Flashback to 1988, when news and information were controlled by the “big three” — abc, cbs, nbc — along with The New York Times and The Washington Post. They were the gatekeepers; they doled out every bit of the information Americans consumed. They determined what was reported and what was not. They owned commentary. They told you the news, and they told you what to think about it.
But then, this happened in 1988: my radio show kicked off. It immediately began busting up their monopoly. For the first time in generations — maybe the first time ever — there was an alternative to the liberal dominance in news and information controlled by the big three networks and the newspapers.
My national radio program burst onto the public airwaves, then my TV show, then multiple conservative radio talk shows, nationally and locally, then Fox News, followed by an explosion of conservative websites. Before long, there was this massive right-wing alternative media that toppled the mainstream media from its pinnacle — and they still haven’t gotten over it! They have been trying to recapture their glory days ever since, when they could get rid of any Republican they chose with a few headlines.
It’s taken them over 30 years, ladies and gentlemen, but they have finally begun to claw back and reestablish their control of the flow of news and information. There’s a new big three now. Instead of abc, cbs, and nbc — it’s Google, Facebook, and Twitter. And close behind are Amazon, YouTube, and, yes, TikTok. And just like big media, they are operating in tandem with the Democrat Party to try to purge conservativism from all platforms and ensure that only leftist ideas see the light of day.
Because of the left’s internet monopoly — Google alone controls 90 percent of online searches — Big Tech can suppress conservative sites on the web. They can deny advertising revenue. They can throttle their presence in search engines. And they are doing it — to shut down conservative voices, and most ominously, ghost President Trump, as the 2020 election approaches.
It’s a genuine threat. Big Tech has amassed the power to function as the gatekeepers for communication, just as the big three television networks did decades before. They allow only the information they want you to see — all the while denying they have a political bias.
Yes, it is a danger we face, but I didn’t work 32 freaking years advancing conservatism to end up with another big three controlling information and news. They will not succeed. Not on my watch:
- “I gave a speech last week on policing that used federal data … to disprove the lie that police are engaged in wanton racist violence against black men as Joe Biden and the rioters maintain. No sooner had I finished the speech, then Google wiped it off the web on the grounds that it violated its community guidelines for keeping YouTube a safe space for all.” — Heather Mac Donald, Manhattan Institute Fellow, on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” 8/6/20
- “Frontline doctors from across the U.S. held a ‘White Coat Summit’ … to expose and counter the ‘massive disinformation campaign’ surrounding the coronavirus … before Facebook, Google/ YouTube, and Twitter pulled the video conference from all social media platforms.” — California Globe, 7/28/20. The video had over 17 million views before it was removed from Facebook.
- “Twitter & Jack [Dorsey, Twitter ceo,] have suspended Donald J. Trump Jr. for posting a viral video of medical doctors talking about hydroxychloroquine. Big Tech is the biggest threat to free expression in America today & they’re continuing to engage in open election interference — full stop.” — Andrew Surabian, Don Jr. spokesperson, on Twitter, 7/28/20
- “If someone is wearing a maga hat, I’m going to delete them for terrorism and just going to like go crazy.” — Lara Kontakos, Facebook content moderator, Project Veritas, 6/23/20
- “Yes! I don’t give no f–ks, I’ll delete it.” — unnamed Facebook content moderator, asked if she “deleted every Republican item that came up on her queue,” Project Veritas, 6/23/20. She also said she refuses to remove anti-Trump content, even if it violates policy: “You gotta take it down, but I leave it up.”
- “Here’s an Excerpt from My covid E-Book that Was Quarantined by Amazon.” — Alex Berenson, former New York Times reporter, at Real Clear Politics, 6/4/20
- “Google employees actively demote content on YouTube deemed ‘controversial queries,’ according to internal documents … including the following phrases … ‘Abortion is wrong’ … ‘climate change hoax’… So was President Donald Trump’s factual statement that immigration chaos has led to ‘people that are from all over that are killers and rapists and they’re coming into this country…’” — Michelle Malkin, creators.com, 8/21/19
- “I gave $10,000 to a pro-Trump group, and I think that’s something to do with it.” — Palmer Luckey, former Facebook top executive, on why he was fired by ceo Mark Zuckerberg, cnbc, 5/22/19
- “Drama/propaganda.” — Google classification of the pro-life movie “Unplanned,” the real-life story of a former Planned Parenthood director who became pro-life, Twitter, 4/19/19
- “The websites targeted in [Google’s] blacklisting according to NewsBusters, which itself was temporarily de-platformed … included The Washington Free Beacon, The Blaze, Townhall, The Daily Wire, PragerU, LifeNews, Project Veritas, Judicial Watch, The Resurgent, Breitbart, the Media Research Center, and cns News, among others… [T]he websites impacted by the Google blackout were still organically available on Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo… Google claimed the recent blacklisting of conservative websites [was] a simple technical error, and not a deliberate attempt to censor certain content or sites.” — The Federalist, 7/29/20
- “Gradually since the 2016 election, Google’s been diminishing our search results — and then all of a sudden, in May of this year, we virtually lost all Google traffic, all search traffic altogether… Overall, our Google traffic is down nearly two-thirds. If you want to search for Joe Biden … the chance of you getting a Breitbart article are virtually zero…” — Alex Marlow, Breitbart editor-in-chief, on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” 7/28/20
- “Google has banned ZeroHedge … from its advertising platform over policy violations found in the comments section of stories about recent Black Lives Matter protests. Google also issued a warning … to The Federalist over comments on articles related to recent protests.” — Adele-Momoko Fraser, nbc News, 6/17/20. As reported by Fox News, it may well have actually been leftist Fraser herself who approached Google to get the websites defunded over reader comments.
- “Amazon.com recently doubled down on its policy that prohibits customers from donating proceeds from their purchases to well-established conservative nonprofits like the Family Research Council and the Alliance Defending Freedom… That’s because the company uses the radical, left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center as the standard-bearer to decide which nonprofits customers are allowed to direct their contributions to.” — Kay Coles James, Heritage Foundation president, quoted in The Washington Times, 6/15/20
- “[A]ccording to documents reviewed by The Journal … some conservative and right-wing websites, including The Gateway Pundit and The United West, were included on a [blacklist] of hundreds of websites that wouldn’t appear in news or featured products…” — “How Google Interferes with Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/16/19
- “Armed with internal memos and emails, former Google software engineer Zachary Vorhies exposed how MichelleMalkin.com (online since 1999) was placed on a news blacklist banning my content from appearing on newsfeeds accessed through Android Google products… My apparent sin: independently growing a large organic following of readers on the internet who share my mainstream conservative views…” — Michelle Malkin, creators.com, 8/21/19
- “PragerU releases a five-minute video every week. Our presenters include three former prime ministers, four Pulitzer Prize winners, liberals, conservatives, gays, blacks, Latinos, atheists, believers, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and professors and scientists from mit, Harvard, Stanford, and a dozen other universities… Yet, Google, which owns YouTube, has restricted access to 56 of our 320 five-minute videos and to other videos we produce… Google has even restricted access to a video on the Ten Commandments… We have repeatedly asked Google why our videos are restricted. No explanation is ever given. But of course, we know why: because they come from a conservative perspective.” — Dennis Prager, Senate testimony, asserting that Big Tech’s “suppression of internet content on ideological grounds threatens the future of America more than any external enemy,” quoted in National Review, 7/23/19
- “In recent months … Twitter began adding labels to some of the President’s tweets; Snap has said it will stop promoting Mr. Trump’s Snapchat account; and Reddit … said it would ban ‘The Donald’ community, which had been a highly influential digital gathering place for Mr. Trump’s acolytes.” — The New York Times, 6/29/20
- “Twitch, the livestreaming platform, said … it was suspending President Trump’s channel for ‘hateful conduct’… The site, which is owned by Amazon, said two recent streams on Mr. Trump’s channel violated its rules. One stream was of a rebroadcasted 2015 campaign event in which Mr. Trump made comments about Mexico sending drugs, crime, and rapists over the border. The other was of his recent rally in Tulsa, OK, where he talked about a ‘very tough hombre’ breaking into a woman’s house at 1 a.m.” — The New York Times, 6/29/20
- “On Wednesday, the Trump campaign placed 88 ads on Facebook — 88 is a number with Nazi connotations — that featured a [red triangle] symbol used by Nazis…” — Vox, “Facebook takes down another Trump campaign ad, this time for Nazi imagery,” promulgating a ridiculous conspiracy theory, 6/18/20
- “These thugs are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen… Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” — Trump tweet hidden from public view unless one clicks on Twitter’s warning, “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” 5/29/20
- “There is no way (zero!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mailboxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone.” — President Trump, on Twitter, 5/26/20. Calling Trump’s claims “unsubstantiated,” Twitter placed an alert underneath, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” with links to cnn. As Sharyl Attkisson reports at Real Clear Investigations, “Twitter’s critique wasn’t … a fact-check at all. It used past reporting from selected partisan news sources to [slam] a prediction … It was, in short, a Democratic Party talking point.”
- “60 Minutes: 300+ Trump Ads Taken Down by Google, YouTube.” — cbs News, on tech companies citing “company policy” for ad removal with no further explanation, 12/4/19
- “Alphabet executives and employees comprise a politically active group that ranks among the largest political donors to Democrats in the country… First Draft [Google’s fact-checking outfit] is … supported by an array of liberal companies and nonprofits, including the Ford Foundation and George Soros’ Open Society Foundations… 18 of the 20 members of Facebook’s oversight board members [who flag content] have ties to Soros’ Open Society Foundations.” — Sharyl Attkisson, Real Clear Investigations, 8/4/20
- “I think it is valuable to have people with a diversity of viewpoints involved, so we can make sure that we have the different viewpoints represented in the policy development process.” — Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook ceo, at antitrust hearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Rev.com, 7/29/20
- “We do not want to become the arbiters of truth. I think that that would be a bad position for us to be in and not what we should be doing. But on specific claims, if someone is going to go out and say that hydroxychloroquine is proven to cure covid, when in fact it has not been proven to cure covid and that that statement could lead people to take a drug that in some cases some of the data suggests that it might be harmful to people, we think that we should take that down. That could cause imminent risk of harm.” — Mark Zuckerberg, asked at antitrust hearing to comment on Trump Jr. being suspended by another platform, Twitter, Reuters, 7/29/20
- “Congressman, we approach our work with a deep sense of responsibility, in a nonpartisan way.” — Sundar Pichai, Google ceo, at antitrust hearing, responding to question from Rep. Greg Steube (R, FL) about Google silencing conservative websites, Rev.com, 7/29/20
- “It was not that long ago that Google employees revolted at the idea of Kay Coles James, a black female and president of the Heritage Foundation, sitting on a Google advisory board designed to ensure diversity in Google’s artificial intelligence practices. Google’s employees want diversity, but not ideological diversity. They believe diversity is needed to shape access to information through Google, but they want to deny any ideological diversity in the process of shaping.” — Erick Erickson, Real Clear Politics, 6/19/20
- “Over time, Google has increasingly re-engineered and interfered with search results to a far greater degree than the company and its executives have acknowledged, a Wall Street Journal investigation has found.” — “How Google Interferes with Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results,” The Wall Street Journal, 11/16/19
- “A 2016 internal investigation at Google showed … [up to] a quarter of a percent of search queries were returning misinformation … [which] would amount to nearly two billion searches a year. By comparison, Facebook faced Congressional scrutiny for Russian misinformation that was viewed by 126 million users.” — The Wall Street Journal, 11/16/19
- “In the fall of 2018, the conservative news site Breitbart News Network posted a leaked video of Google executives, including [co-founder] Mr. [Sergey] Brin and Google ceo Sundar Pichai, upset and addressing staffers following President Trump’s election two years earlier. A group of Google employees noticed the video was appearing on the 12th page of search results when Googling ‘leaked Google video Trump,’ which made it seem like Google was burying it.” — The Wall Street Journal, 11/16/19
- “The reason why I collected these documents is because I saw something dark and nefarious going on with the company [Google]. I felt that our entire election system was going to be compromised forever by this company… I saw they were making really quick moves, not only in the documents but also in the internal speeches that the executives were giving to the company. They were intending to sculpt the information landscape so that they could create their own version of what was objectively true.” — Zachary Vorhies, former Google employee who turned over 1,000 Google docs to the antitrust division at the doj, showing that the tech giant manipulated its algorithms against conservative and Christian media, cbn, 8/15/19
- “I look at search and I look at Google News and I see what it’s doing and I see Google executives go to Congress and say that it’s not manipulated. It’s not political. And I’m just so sure that’s not true.” — Greg Coppola, then-senior Google engineer, Project Veritas, 7/24/19
- “To be clear, our … ranking doesn’t make judgments based on political views or the substance of tweets.” — Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter product lead, blaming a “glitch” for the shadow-banning of several Republican congressmen and rnc Chair Ronna McDaniel, Fox News, 7/25/18
Under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, providers of interactive computer services were categorized as platforms, not publishers — and thus were given special liability protections. But Google, Facebook, Twitter, and the other Big Tech companies abused and weaponized that position by going around stamping out conservative political speech while pretending to be neutral.
We are all on to them. As President Trump tweeted on 7/29/20: “If Congress doesn’t bring fairness to Big Tech, which they should have done years ago, I will do it myself… In Washington, it has been all talk and no action for years, and the people of our Country are sick and tired of it!”
So, which will come first — their losing Section 230 protection, or their monopolistic behavior busted up by antitrust action? I predict both are around the corner. The new “big three” are on borrowed time!
Cartoons by permission of A.F. Branco and Creators Syndicate, Inc.
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