Conservatives in Capitol Hill are gaming a multi-front war on the tech industry as a vengeance for President Trump’s authority and others on the right, congressional sources told Axios.
Why it matters: When you are in the minority, you find out who you are as a party. Republicans are now looking at Democrats, they are looking for a unified issue. This is the one, at least for now.
What we are listening to: Members are talking afresh about breaking up companies, revoking their legal protections and calling their leaders for testimony. To protect their brand from further damage after the Capital siege, they are biting their tongues.
But, but, but: Some have started to be aggressive against companies, at least in online and conservative media.
- Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss), who will lead Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee, on Tuesday sought answers from CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter about the treatment of conservatives.
- During an appearance on Fox News last week, Wicker said, “It’s already bigger than Donald Trump. It’s a huge amount of free speech.”
What they are saying Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Who became the poster boy for Republicans after the election, said Congress should consider adopting Trump’s call to disband companies and repeal Section 230.
- That part of the Communications Decency Act shields platforms from liability on content posted by their users.
- “We’ve known for some time that Tech monopolies were moving toward shutting down conservative voices. Now they’ve banned or censored many conservatives in a few days,” Hawley told Axios.
Other Republicans agree, However, it is unclear what they can do in the minority of Congress.
- “President Trump’s censorship proves how much power Big Tech’s speech has in America,” said Rep. Ken Keane (R-Colo.). “The way to rein in Big Tech is to support the state’s efforts to combat blatant crime and to hold these companies accountable.”
Yes but: Complaints about bias only go so far, especially since right-leaning pages do particularly well on Facebook.
- Democrats and progressivists, in particular, are complaining that Big Tech has provided safe haven to the worst elements of the right, including white supremacists.
Hill Damage Control: Apple has reached the GOP offices to explain its suspension of Parler clear and justified. A GOP House aide said Facebook has also reached out after Trump was banned to discuss conservative claims of censorship.
- Apple CEO Tim Cook told Fox News that if the parlor “gets its moderation together,” it will return to the App Store.
- For Facebook, the Trump ban is a clear indication that the company is well aware of the Democrats’ rise in Washington, but amending with conservatives will also remain a priority.