CNN has for a while been on the front lines of a concerted effort by media and politicians in the US to bring more government regulation of social media giants – with the goal of stepping up “moderation in search of misinformation” – such as that which allegedly helped Donald Trump get elected in 2016.
But when the Trump White House attempts to use the same method – this time with the goal of eliminating anti-conservative bias – the language changes, and rhetoric shifts from moderation and misinformation to policing and censorship, such as in this CNN headline reading, “Federal officials raise concerns about White House plan to police alleged social media censorship“.
The report, based on anonymous sources, i.e., “several people familiar with the matter,” says that a closed-door meeting took place last month between representatives of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and “a US Commerce Department office that advises the White House on telecommunications.”
During the meeting, FCC ad FTC officials reportedly expressed “serious concerns” over an initiative CNN says has been launched by the US administration. This concerns the drafting of an order that would allow the two agencies to scrutinize large social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to determine if they are engaging in “partisan censorship.”
CNN cites critics who believe the move may be unconstitutional, go against the First Amendment that guarantees free speech, and introduce “government speech police.”
But conservatives alleging widespread left-wing bias on major social networks are expressing fears that, as things stand now, it is their free speech that is being trampled on.
The article doesn’t offer any ideas on how to overcome this deadlock, but does expand on the potential dangers of the draft that is reportedly in the works. A Clinton-era FCC chief of staff said the draft – reported about by CNN earlier, but not confirmed by the White House – would give the FCC “more power over content than it’s ever had.”
But, according to the article, this is power is something the FCC doesn’t want – as this agency and the FTC are said to be joining the ranks of draft’s critics.
Meanwhile, CNN has failed to get either the FCC or the FTC to comment on its reporting. A White House spokesperson, while also refusing to comment on the meeting that allegedly took place last month, mentioned “Trump’s previous promises to explore all policy options to address complaints of social media bias.”