Shapiro to House Committee: Censorship cartel, leftist politicians are targeting conservative media

Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro testified Wednesday morning before the House Judiciary Committee, offering a scathing opening statement laying bare the extent to which liberal politicians have successfully…

Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro testified Wednesday morning before the House Judiciary Committee, offering a scathing opening statement laying bare the extent to which liberal politicians have successfully suppressed and censored conservative media.

The hearing on “Collusion in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media,” was to “examine whether existing civil and criminal penalties and current antitrust law enforcement efforts are sufficient to deter anticompetitive collusion in online advertising.”

Shapiro’s opening statement is transcribed here in full:

We’re in the midst of a trust crisis in the world of media, which is because so many in the legacy media have lied in order to preserve left leaning narratives.

To take just the most recent example. We were told by the legacy media that President Biden was just fine for years, anyone who questioned his health and mental fitness was trafficking in cheap fakes, and then President Biden went out and engaged in a full scale mental collapse on stage in front of hundreds of millions of people. So we can see why Americans, at least Americans who are not Democrats, do not trust the media.

The question isn’t really why the legacy media have lost Americans trust. We know that answer. The question is, why, despite that loss of trust, the legacy media continue to gain share in the advertising market?

And the answer is simple. There is, in fact, an informal pressure system created by Democratic legislators, this White House, legacy media advertisers and pseudo objective brand safety organizations. That system guarantees that advertising dollars flow only to left wing media brands.

Let me explain how this works.

When a conservative competitor to the legacy media arises, members of that legacy media and their political allies rush to paint such competitors as dangerous. The commentator Kara Swisher of The New York Times, for example, told the head of YouTube that my videos at Daily Wire were a “gateway drug” that would lead children, including her own teenage son, to watch neo Nazi content. Never mind Bianca.

Elected Democrats picked up that same messaging in 2017.

Senator Dianne Feinstein told lawyers at Facebook, Google and Twitter, “You created these platforms and now they’re being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it, or we will.”

Social media companies react to incentive structures, including threats. They have responded by adopting the standards of third party left wing informational safety groups like the Global Alliance for Responsible Media or GARM.

GARM purportedly sets brand safety standards, objective standards by which advertisers and platforms can supposedly determine just what sort of content ought to be deemed safe for advertising.

In reality, GARM acts as a cartel. Its members account for 90% of ad spending in the United States, almost a trillion dollars. Almost a trillion dollars.

In other words, if you’re not getting ad dollars from GARM members, it’s nearly impossible to run an ad-based business, and if you’re not following their preferred political narratives, the ones that Kara Swisher and Dianne Feinstein would follow, you will not be deemed brand safe. Your business will be throttled.

We at Daily Wire have experienced this firsthand in 2017 after Senator Feinstein made her threats to bring the weight of government down.

On social media platforms, Daily Wire’s YouTube channel saw a 1,000% increase in content enforcements over a two year period since 2021 after Democrat officials further turned up the heat on social media companies, my personal Facebook page has seen an over 80% drop in impressions.

Or take Joe Rogan, when Joe said that he had taken ivermectin after getting covid. White House press secretary Jen Psaki pressured Spotify to take action, stating, “We want every platform to be doing more to call out mis- and disinformation while also uplifting accurate information.”

Spotify complied.

Spotify, of course, works with GARM.

So what are the brand safety standards that GARM uses? The Standards begin with inarguable things that we’ve heard from the other witnesses, like preventing distribution of child sexual abuse material or stopping terrorism.

But GARM doesn’t draw the line at what is criminal, abusive or dangerous. Their standards also include restrictions on hate speech, harassment, misinformation, or my personal favorite, insensitive, irresponsible and harmful treatment of debated, sensitive social issues.

Those criteria are highly subjective in theory, and they are purely partisan in practice.

For example, last year, Daily Wire host Matt Walsh was fully demonetized on YouTube, a GARM member. Why? For “misgendering,” which to GARM is to say that men are not women.

Perfectly obvious facts now run afoul of GARM’s censorship standards.

Companies targeted by GARM – like the Daily Wire, Breitbart, Fox News and so many others – reach hundreds of millions of people with opinions and beliefs long established as within the mainstream of American conservative thought.

GARM and its members have no respect for the beliefs of those people. They would like them marginalized or squashed.

It’s time to stand up for the First Amendment in this Congress. Congress can do so in two ways.

First, Congress must investigate the informal and perhaps formal arrangements between censorship cartels like GARM and executive branch agencies. The Daily wire has already filed a federal lawsuit against the state department for allegedly doing just this.

Second, Congress can itself stop engaging in violation of free speech principles.

Two weeks ago, writing a dissent in Murphy v. Missouri, Justice Alito condemned what he called sophisticated and coercive government campaigns against free speech. Members of this committee have engaged in precisely such campaigns, when Congressman Schiff speaks about targeting social media companies that must be, “pulled and dragged” into this era of corporate responsibility because they are too tolerant of misinformation. He knows what he is doing. He is participating in a sophisticated coercive campaign against free speech.

When Congresswoman Jayapal blames social media for placing America at the precipice of a democratic crisis and calls on them to target [who] they deem hate groups, she also knows what she is doing. She is participating in a sophisticated, coercive campaign against free speech.

When Congressman Hank Johnson says, “We need a constitutional amendment to allow the Legislature to control the so called free speech rights of corporations,” he also knows what he is doing.

We all know what these government actors […] are doing. You’re using the tacit threat of government action to compel private companies to throttle viewpoints you don’t particularly like.

The First Amendment was not designed to enable workarounds by elected officials. It was directed at Congress, at you, and you’re abdicating your fundamental duty when you exert pressure on private companies to censor speech.

Some in this room have been doing just that for years. We in the non-legacy media have been feeling the effects in the name of the Constitution and the name of democracy.

This should stop.