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EDITORIAL: House Democrats eager to ban views they don’t like

Over the past four years, liberals warned incessantly that Donald Trump’s “fake news” shtick and his verbal attacks on the media represented a dire threat to the First Amendment. But the former president has nothing on the despotic, authoritarian progressives now dominating the Democratic Party.

On Wednesday, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce is scheduled to hold a hearing on “Disinformation and Extremism in the Media.” That should make defenders of free speech nervous enough. But in advance of the event, two California Democrats on the panel mounted an unprecedented effort to intimidate satellite and other media companies into silencing certain viewpoints.

“To our knowledge, the cable, satellite and over-the-top companies that disseminate these media outlets to American viewers have done nothing in response to the misinformation aired by these outlets,” reads a letter that Reps. Anna G. Eshoo and Jerry McNerney sent to the heads of a dozen major companies. The letter was first reported this week by The New York Times.

“These media outlets” refers to Fox News, One America News Network and Newsmax. But the Democrats didn’t stop there. “The House also released a memorandum,” The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, “that appears to give orders to mainstream news sources. ‘Despite criticism, many traditional media outlets continue to allow for the disinformation in an attempt to follow journalistic standards and present multiple viewpoints on a news story,’ the committee avers.”

This is an unapologetic effort to intimidate media outlets and cable companies that provide their customers with a wide variety of news options. It’s about as subtle as carpet bombing. The letter openly does the bidding of radical hard-left activists who have made it clear that they intend to pressure major cable carriers into dropping conservative-leaning new stations.

“Are you planning to continue carrying Fox News, OANN and Newsmax on your platform both now and beyond the renewal date?” the letter demands to know. “If so, why?”

Whether you’re a fan of Fox News or not, this is dangerous and disturbing. Libel laws already exist to police speech that is false and damaging. Congress has no role in regulating cable or satellite TV content, and it’s an egregious abuse of power for House members to threaten private interests in pursuit of a censorial agenda.

Had Mr. Trump or congressional Republicans pulled a similar stunt to cow Comcast, AT&T, Cox, Dish and the rest into removing CNN or MSNBC, the outrage would have been fast and furious — and rightly so. Where, then, are the grown-ups in the Democratic Party who will stand in opposition to this extremism and in support of the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights?

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