Billionaires! Worthy of the depravity of all sorts of cartoon villains. After all, they are controlling what you think! And they must be stopped!
So said CNN contributor David Zurawik Sunday on the network’s “Reliable Sources” program.
Well, maybe not all billionaires need to be stopped.
Actually, Zurawik, professor of media studies at Goucher College, was referring to specifically one billionaire only: Elon Musk, of course. The billionaire guilty of wrongthink. Or who is at least susceptible to the sin of free speech.
OK, perhaps to be fair, he threw in Mark Zuckerberg’s name. But, in the wake of Musk’s purchase of Twitter, it’s obvious Zurawik’s real problem was with Musk.
Platforms like Twitter should be regulated like Western European countries regulate speech in their nations, Zurawik claimed.
He listed prior congressional efforts at information control, including The Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934, regulating radio. He also erroneously expanded the long-recognized theory of public ownership of the radio spectrum to include the internet.
Doesn’t Zurawik realize that our First Amendment — which Western European and other countries don’t have — prohibits Congress from regulating speech, especially political speech? And did anyone remind Zurawik that CNN was founded by partisan, belligerently anti-Christian billionaire Ted Turner?
And surely the professor knows Amazon’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.
True, he criticized billionaire Zuckerberg for allowing Facebook to interfere in a presidential election. But he made no mention of Zuckerberg swinging thousands of votes for Biden in 2020; rather, he accused him in 2016 of “taking rubles for ads from Russia,” an apparent reference to the debunked accusations of Russian interference resulting in the election of former President Donald Trump.
Zurawik — like so many on the left — are livid that Musk has broken the near-monopoly over free expression exercised by major internet platforms, broadcast and cable news and by declining print media.
Essentially only talk radio, and increasingly pressured internet media like The Western Journal and some others remain outside the big corporation-government alliance of the left.
Despite censorship of scientific evidence and dissident American speakers and politicians, coupled with White House efforts to sic the law enforcement efforts of the Department of Homeland Security on information it doesn’t like, reaction to the purchase by the libertarian-leaning Musk has been bombastic.
CNN's David Zurawik: "Dangerous" with Elon Musk buying Twitter, we need to look to Europe.
"You need regulation. You cannot let these guys control discourse in this country or we are headed to hell. We are there. Trump opened the gates of hell and now they’re chasing us down." pic.twitter.com/QubyKZwVCQ
— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) May 1, 2022
Zurawik said Musk was like Zuckerberg in that Musk had issues with the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission regarding an earlier ill-fated attempt to buy Twitter.
“This is dangerous,” Zurawik said. “We can’t think anymore in this country … we don’t have people in Congress who can make regulations — that can make it work. I think we can look to the Western countries in Europe for how they are trying to limit it, but you need — you need! — controls on this. You need regulation.”
“You cannot let these guys control discourse in this country or we are headed to hell,” he claimed. “We are there. Trump opened the gates of hell and now we’re there.”
Regarding U.S. regulation of communication, the Radio Act of 1927, as indicated by Zurawik, declared public ownership of the airwaves.
There has been some talk but no formal declaration of the internet as a common carrier like a phone company, but there is nothing similar to public ownership like that of the radio spectrum as Zurawik implied.
Despite Zurawik’s call for congressional regulation of discourse, thankfully, there remains the First Amendment to the Constitution, which places specific prohibitions on Congress.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Amazing how many problems we currently face are addressed in those 45 words.
And given the left’s current war on free speech, we must stand firm upon them.