The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) kicks off tomorrow in Washington DC with big-name guest speakers and a variety of conservative-focused panel discussions that will no doubt spark outrage and hand-wringing from left-wing talking heads. Like every year, he has quite a bit to discuss, from widespread tech censorship to the weaponization of the federal government.
DirecTV’s recent move to cut Newsmax from its service is rumored to have given it plenty of time. Not surprisingly, former President Donald Trump was one of the guest speakers and his campaign team was in attendance. Putting aside the Trump campaign’s ties to the network, the debate is worth considering as the trend toward silencing opposing political views has picked up steam over the past few years.
So for those of you who cut your cable and DirecTV ties long ago in favor of streaming services, let’s take a look at what happened to Newsmax a month ago and what might be discussed at CPAC later this week.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) February 16, 2023
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Last month DirecTV announced it was cutting Newsmax from its service to save money. It’s no surprise that, as more and more households like mine switch to streaming, the traditional cable business needs help maintaining its relevance.
DirecTV’s argument for cutting Newsmax was that the network was demanding “exorbitant fees” that cost DirecTV “tens of millions” of dollars. However, Newsmax argues that this is not true.
According to Newsmax, they were asking for $1 per cable subscriber per year, one of the lowest fees ever requested in cable. Meanwhile, as Newsmax has been cut, DirecTV continues to carry 22 left-leaning channels.
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A fair amount of these left-leaning channels have lower ratings than Newsmax and all receive license fees. If you are a business looking to cut costs, you would cut channels with low ratings and keep channels that are performing well, such as Newsmax.
Interestingly, Newsmax is not the first conservative channel to be cut by DirecTV recently. The AT&T-owned business also cut the One America News (OAN) network.
My, this is very suspicious.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) February 27, 2023
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A lot of the chatter at CPAC this week will focus on the network’s censorship, political strategist Dick Morris reported on Newsmax on Saturday.
“I bet about 20% of the audience has been cut from AT&T and DirecTV and can’t watch Trump on Newsmax,” Morris said.
Morris pointed out that he doesn’t offer the service that Newsmax provides to others, saying, “The problem you have here is that Fox doesn’t cover Trump; Newsmax does.
Morris called Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch’s bias against the former POTUS a major reason for the network’s lack of coverage, saying, “He refuses to mention his name. You ask for coverage, and there’s DeSantis, there’s Pence, there’s all these other people, but never Trump.”
He continued, “The only vehicle that Trump has to deliver his information to the American people — and talk about what he will do as president — is Newsmax.” As a viewer of the peppering of all news outlets, including Fox News and Newsmax, Newsmax covers Trump most extensively; However, to say that Fox News doesn’t cover Trump is a bit of hyperbole.
The issue of Newsmax being cut by the Directive for dubious reasons still raises valid concerns; Increased public and private acceptance of political censorship.
Do you know?: @NEWSMAX It is the 4th highest rated cable news channel in the US and the 16th highest rated cable channel overall in daytime viewers.
Visit https://t.co/PhYvR88ppy or more. pic.twitter.com/KrMmeY1Fm6
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) February 27, 2023
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A Dangerous Marriage
After the removal of Newsmax, more than 40 Republican lawmakers wrote a letter to DirecTV, stating that, along with the OAN removal, “taken together, these two actions lead us to believe that DirecTV … is actively working to limit conservative views on its system.” I usually roll my eyes at any strongly worded letter from politicians, let alone their group, so I’m pessimistic that anything with real teeth will come from the note.
However, the best description of what DirecTV’s move represents came from Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who said that “there is this new hybrid of corporate power and state power that is doing things together that it couldn’t do on its own.”
Ramaswamy explains, “This is the invisible fist of the government, using companies like AT&T through the back door to achieve what the government under the Constitution cannot do through the front door – censor unwanted views.”
After announcing the decision to cut DirecTV 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” so the left can use the corporate world to push their agenda.
As Morris summarizes, “They use market power to prevent our message from being projected, and that’s what they’re trying to do by cutting off Newsmax from those outlets.”
Freedom of speech is essential in any democratic society.
Sadly DirecTV disagrees and wants to censor conservative voices.
— Oli London (@OliLondonTV) February 23, 2023
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In addition to the letter from Republican lawmakers, DirecTV received a letter from CPAC President Matt Schlapp, which said, “The cancellation of Newsmax is yet another example of woke CEOs, tech oligarchs, government officials and left-wing activists engaging in information warfare. To silence those they disagree with. So it’s fair to say there will be some discussion of this controversy at CPAC this week.
In fact, according to the CPAC schedule, Thursday is allotted its own hour. The discussion titled ‘Death by Dish’ will feature Matt Schlapp and Chris Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax.
In a world where information is power, and where control of that information is lopsided and increasingly centralized within government, we should all be interested and concerned about what happened to Newsmax, whether we are active observers 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% right. upcoming #CPAC The conference will include many conversations about big tech/big media censorship of conservative media in America – esp @DIRECTV @TOCensorship of @NEWSMAX! @CPAC @CPAC_TV https://t.co/KzKQIdfdZT
– Brian E. Leib (@BryanLeibFL) February 27, 2023
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