West Virginia AG urges news providers to resist calls to 'censor' programming

West Virginia AG urges news providers to resist calls to 'censor' programming
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West Virginia’s attorney general on Wednesday sent a letter to cable, satellite and streaming providers urging them to reject calls from House Democratic lawmakers this week to combat misinformation on certain news channels. 

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) on Wednesday wrote to executives at companies such as Amazon, AT&T, Comcast, Hulu and Verizon that Democratic Reps. Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — US cracks down on tools for foreign hacking House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress makes technology policy moves MORE (Calif.) and Jerry McNerneyGerlad (Jerry) Mark McNerneyHouse passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure The United States must lead the way on artificial intelligence standards House passes host of bills to strengthen cybersecurity in wake of attacks MORE (Calif.) “overstepped their authority by pressuring the industry to engage in dangerous, anticompetitive and collusive censorship of conservative daily news programming.”

On Monday, the two senior members of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology sent letters to cable and streaming companies questioning their “ethical principles” involved in deciding which channels to carry and when to take action against a channel. 

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“Some purported news outlets have long been misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm,” they wrote, specifically pointing to Newsmax, One America Network and Fox News. 

In response, Morrisey on Wednesday wrote in a letter to the cable and streaming companies that the letter from the California lawmakers “contains highly intrusive information requests, thinly-veiled threats, and a plea that companies consider cutting off access of millions of Americans to three conservative news channels that these members dislike.”

The state attorney general went on to urge the companies to “consider your response to their letter very carefully and not bow down to their approach.” 

Morrisey went on to say, “My colleagues and I will not allow collusive anticompetitive activities to run wild, especially when the consequences mean that millions of Americans are deprived of diverse political content they wish to enjoy—content that lies at the heart of political discourse in America.” 

The West Virginia official’s letter comes as members of the House communications and technology subcommittee hold a hearing Wednesday to examine the role misinformation on cable news played in the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot. 

Representatives from Fox News and Newsmax, while not scheduled to testify at Wednesday’s hearing, pushed back against the move, with Fox arguing it “sets a terrible precedent” when members of Congress “highlight political speech they do not like.”

However, some Democratic lawmakers have suggested that the subcommittee could bring in cable news executives to testify in the future.