Republicans in both the House and Senate are falsely screaming "censorship" and threatening to haul executives from DirecTV and AT&T in to testify before cameras in congressional hearings after the digital satellite TV service provider dropped Newsmax over the far-right wing, pro-Trump channel's demand for higher fees.
DirecTV is majority-owned by multinational telecom giant AT&T, which has a history of donating to far-right extremist Republicans. AT&T also spent millions to fund the creation of another far-right channel, One America News Network, better known as OAN or OANN. Last year Newsweek reported "AT&T sits atop a list of corporate donors to U.S. senators and congressmembers who voted against certifying the election for Biden."
AT&T, Newsweek reported, has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to members of the "sedition caucus," lawmakers who "voted to overturn the election."
And yet the GOP, from ex-president Donald Trump on down, are using their political power to try to force a private entity, DirecTV, to carry a channel it has determined doesn't fit into its business model anymore. These are the same Republicans who would demand protections for bakers and florists who don't want to serve same-sex couples getting married, who want to ban books they find offensive, and restrict a woman's right to her health care choices.
Over 40 Republicans sent a letter to AT&T, DirecTV, and TPG Capital, the minority owner of the satellite TV service provider, accusing DirecTV of "actively working to to limit conservative viewpoints," as Ars Technica and CBS News reported.
The Daily Beast reports, "this should have been a typical cable package negotiation in an era of cord-cutting, shrinking subscription numbers, and reduced television revenues. Instead, it looks like it will become yet another salvo in the ongoing culture wars and partisan gripes fueling American politics and cable news."
Indeed, a DirecTV spokesperson told The Daily Beast, “On multiple occasions, we made it clear to Newsmax that we wanted to continue to offer the network, but ultimately Newsmax’s demands for rate increases would have led to significantly higher costs that we would have to pass on to our broad customer base.”
They also noted that Newsmax is available, for free, "via NewsmaxTV.com, YouTube.com and on multiple streaming platforms like Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Google Play."
Republicans are furious, thanks in no small part to Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a longtime friend and ally of ex-president Donald Trump.
"AT&T's DirecTV Cancels NEWSMAX in Censorship Move," Newsmax wrote in an article on its website. It quotes Ruddy saying, "This is a blatant act of political discrimination and censorship against Newsmax."
The article also notes that "41 Republican congressmen led by Rep. Wesley Hunt, R-Texas, sent a letter to the CEOs of AT&T, DirecTV, and hedge fund TPG Capital, the minority operator of the satellite system, warning of hearings."
Donald Trump rushed to Ruddy's aid. Writing on his Truth Social platform, the ex-president outright lied, saying DirecTV dropped Newsmax "without explanation."
He then turned it into a campaign message: "This is just one of many reasons why we must WIN IN 2024!!!"
But Republicans aren't even trying to hide why they are furious about DirecTV dropping Newsmax.
"If Newsmax is removed from DirecTV, in less than a year House Republicans will have lost two of the three cable news channels that reach conservative voters on a platform that primarily serves conservative-leaning areas of the country," Congressman Hunt's letter reads.
House Republican Conference chair Elise Stefanik took to Twitter to go after DirecTV, calling it "unacceptable to de-platform Newsmax, a popular news channel that many of my constituents in #NY21 depend on for news."
Accusing "the left" of trying to "snap everybody in line with their view, their way of thinking," U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) threatened to have AT&T and DirecTV "executives come to talk to us, and explain this to us," adding, "it could go as far as having public hearings."
One of the most far-right Republicans in the House, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), appeared on Newsmax to threaten congressional hearings.
"AT&T needs to feel it and understand this is not going to be tolerated," Biggs threatened Wednesday.
Congressman Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) also went to bat for Newsmax, saying on Newsmax "this really deserves an investigation in Congress." he falsely claimed, "it's obvious" AT&T wants "to remove conservative voices wherever they can, whenever they can."
U.S. Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) also appeared on Newsmax 'absolutely" agreed with a Newssmax host who asked if the Senate would hold hearings on why AT&T/DirecTV are 'censoring conservative," which again, is false.
"This censorship, by companies like AT&T, of conservative voices," Scott falsely claimed, "has got to stop. We need to hold hearings."
Not to be outdone, U.S. Rep. Mónica De La Cruz actually made a speech on the House floor. Stumbling over her words from a pre-written statement while repeatedly stressing "AT&T," the GOP Congresswoman from Texas falsely called it "another victory in the woke left’s efforts to cancel conservatives and limit free speech."
But Sirius XM host and attorney Dean Obeidallah has strong words for Republicans who are using their government power to try to pressure private entities like AT&T and Newsmax to make business decisions they have determined are not in the interests of their shareholders: "This is 3rd world country BS."
The "head of Newsmax played the white right victimhood card," he adds, saying the reason "they were dropped was for their political views. That is 100% a lie. The GOP wants to force businesses to do what they want or suffer consequences like their beloved Putin does in Russia."
Watch the videos of Republicans supporting Newsmax and calling for hearings above or at this link.