Ben Weingarten, senior contributor at The Federalist and fellow at the Claremont Institute, said DirecTV's deplatforming of Newsmax must be viewed in the larger context of a "massive public-private censorship regime."
Appearing Friday on Newsmax's "National Report," Weingarten said the "Twitter Files" revelations, in conjunction with recent reporting from the Washington Examiner on an effort to defund conservative media, and DirecTV's move to censor Newsmax point to a campaign by the left to "purge dissenting voices under the guise of national security or public health."
"I think the most important questions lawmakers have lodged at DirecTV are, 'What communications have you had with members of Congress, as well as members of the executive branch?'" Weingarten said. "This gets into the potential for censorship by surrogate, First Amendment violations by proxy.
DirecTV customers call toll free at 877-763-9762 to complain, demand Newsmax is returned! Oppose censorship – sign The Petition – Click Here
"If a private enterprise does on behalf of government what government cannot do itself, that's a violation, that's acting as an agent of the government. It's unlawful, it's un-American and, of course, we should have a culture which encourages, regardless of government action, the proliferation of a whole slew of voices, because that's what we believe in a free society."
AT&T's DirecTV cut Newsmax's signal Jan. 24, blocking the network from 13 million subscribers of the satellite service, DirecTV Stream and U-Verse.
Newsmax is America's fourth highest-rated news network in the cable landscape and a top-20 overall channel that reaches 25 million Americans weekly, according to the Nielsen ratings.
While DirecTV said it dropped the popular network due to "cost-cutting" measures, it also carries 22 left-leaning news channels, many of which draw considerably lower ratings than Newsmax, and all of which get paid license fees.
DirecTV has claimed Newsmax was demanding "excessive fees" that would amount to "tens of millions" of dollars. Newsmax has denied that, saying it is seeking an approximate fee of $1 per cable subscriber per year, which is among the lowest requested fees in cable.
"This was never about the fees being excessive," said Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax. "DirecTV's position has always been that Newsmax of all cable news channels should never get any cable fee whatsoever, not one penny."
Weingarten said that the result of collusion between private enterprise and government may ultimately result in action by Congress.
"Unfortunately, as a consequence of the massive pressure from the government on the private sector, now there does have to be a probe, and I do think we're going to get serious oversight action in the House and on the Senate side as well on this issue," he said.
Actions to Take Now
1. DirecTV customers call toll free at 877-763-9762 to complain, demand Newsmax is back on air!
2. Call your congressman or senator at 202-224-3121 and demand they stop AT&T/DirecTV's censorship of NEWSMAX — ask them to give you a date on the hearings!
3. Go to our online petition and get more info: iWantNewsmax.com.
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