Some Things are Just Business, Not Politics – and That’s a Good Thing

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The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was the predictable venue for Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy to portrait DirecTV’s recent decision to stop carrying the channel as “censorship.” This same fundamental attribution error has been happening with removed posts and accounts on social media for years, but House Republicans are taking a step back in technology to claim the same victimhood in satellite television.

DirecTV’s situation seems even more clearly one of purely business considerations than the sometimes controversial content moderation decisions online, as described in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial. Newsmax and DirecTV have yet to come to a mutually agreeable deal on fees for licensing – and they might never come to a mutually agreeable arrangement. Carriage disputes regularly result in temporary blackouts, but usually are eventually resolved. The kerfuffle between DirecTV and Newsmax is nothing out of the ordinary.

That is, except that some members of Congress have decided to get involved. Perhaps it’s the nature of the beast to make political hay where one can, but that more than forty members sent a letter to DirecTV executives accusing the company of, “actively working to limit conservative viewpoints on its system” is rich. Admitting the self-interested nature of their intervention, the letter goes on to explain that this, “is extremely concerning for Members of Congress because it suppresses political discourse and hamstrings (their) ability to connect with (their) constituents.” In other words, there’s one less place for them to make cable news appearances.

DirecTV, like social media platforms, has a First Amendment right to not carry any content that they would rather not. It’s a settled question of law and the closest example of “must carry” is a whole host of circumstances different. Even if DirecTV was politically motivated, that would be their constitutionally protected right. Although, that’s an unlikely explanation considering their planned launch of a new conservative channel called, The First.

Any American paying more for almost everything and watching unprecedented government spending knows Congress has better things to do than lament the possible dropping of a small news channel from one of many carriers.