House Democrats Go Fox Hunting

When elected officials browbeat the executives of regulated telecom, video, and app companies trying to get them to drop the main news channel of the political opposition—which also happens to be the most popular channel in its market—you may think you’re living in an arbitrary strong-arm regime. But it’s happening this week in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both California Democrats, sent a letter on congressional letterhead to top executives of various cable, satellite, and communications companies, including Alphabet, the parent of Google, which distributes video via its YouTube TV streaming service and Google Play app.

The letter denounces Fox News, as well as newer competitors to its right such as Newsmax and One America News Network, as purveyors of misinformation and extremism. And it gets directly to the point with its demands: “Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News [and the others] … both now and beyond any contract renewal date? If so, why?”

The tone of threat is not idle. Both Eshoo and McNerney are majority members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which draws up legislation and oversees regulation relevant to cable and telecom providers and technology firms generally. (Fox News and the others mentioned generally do not broadcast over publicly shared airwaves, the scarcity of which was the original rationale for federal broadcast regulation.)

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