Shapiro to House Committee: Censorship Cartels, Left-wing Politicians Target Conservative Media

The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro testified Wednesday morning before the House Judiciary Committee and offered a scathing opening statement revealing 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 enforcement efforts are sufficient to deter anticompetitive collusion in online advertising.”

Shapiro’s opening statement is transcribed here in full:

We are in the midst of a crisis of confidence in the media world, which is because so many in legacy media have lied to preserve left-leaning narratives.

To take just the most recent example. We were told by legacy media that President Biden was fine for years, anyone who questioned his health and mental fitness engaged 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 aren’t Democrats, don’t trust the media.

The question is not really why the legacy media has lost the trust of Americans. We know that answer. The question is why, despite the loss of trust, do the older media continue to take part in the advertising market?

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

Let me explain how this works.

When a conservative competitor to legacy media emerges, members of the legacy media and their political allies are quick to paint such competitors as dangerous. Commentator Kara Swisher of The New York Times, for example, told the head of YouTube that my videos on the 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 took up the same message in 2017.

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

Social media companies respond to incentive structures, including threats. They have responded by adopting the standards of third-party left-leaning information security groups such as the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, or GARM.

GARM purports to set standards for brand safety, objective standards by which advertisers and platforms can determine exactly what type of content should be considered safe for advertising.

In reality, GARM operates as a cartel. Its members account for 90% of advertising spending in the United States, nearly a trillion dollars. Almost a trillion dollars.

In other words, if you don’t get ad money from GARM members, it’s nearly impossible to run an ad-based business, and if you don’t follow their preferred political narratives, the ones Kara Swisher and Dianne Feinstein would follow, you won’t be considered brand safe . Your business will be throttled.

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

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

Or take Joe Rogan, when Joe said he had taken ivermectin after getting covid. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pressed Spotify to take action, saying, “We want every platform to do more to call out errors and misinformation while encouraging accurate information.”

Spotify complied.

Of course, Spotify works with GARM.

So what are the brand safety standards that GARM uses? The standards begin with undeniable things that we have heard from the other witnesses, such as preventing the distribution of child sexual abuse materials or stopping terrorism.

But GARM does not draw the line for what is criminal, offensive 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.

These criteria are very subjective in theory, and they are downright biased in practice.

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

Completely obvious facts now violate GARM’s censorship standards.

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

GARM and its members have no respect for these people’s beliefs. They would like them marginalized or crushed.

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

First, Congress must examine the informal and perhaps formal arrangements between censorship cartels like GARM and executive agencies. The Daily wire has already filed a federal lawsuit against the State Department for doing just that.

Second, Congress itself can stop engaging in violations 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 just such campaigns, as Congressman Schiff talks about targeting social media companies that must be “dragged and dragged” into this era of corporate liability because they are too tolerant of misinformation. He knows what he’s doing. He is participating in a sophisticated coercive campaign against freedom of expression.

When Congresswoman Jayapal blames social media for putting America on the precipice of a democratic crisis and urges them to target (whom) they consider hate groups, she also knows what she’s doing. She is participating in a sophisticated coercive campaign against freedom of expression.

When Congressman Hank Johnson says, “We need a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to control corporate so-called free speech,” he also knows what he’s doing.

We all know what these state actors (…) do. You use the silent threat of government action to force private companies to stifle views you don’t particularly like.

The First Amendment was not designed to allow solutions by elected officials. It was directed at Congress, at you, and you are abdicating your basic duty when you pressure private companies to censor speech.

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

This should stop.

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