WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), incoming Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), incoming Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) today sent a letter to the CEOs of DirectTV and its controlling shareholders, AT&T and TPG, voicing deep concerns about DirecTV’s recent decision to drop conservative news network Newsmax. The letter demands answers and information about the decision.
In the letter to DirecTV CEO William Morrow, AT&T CEO John Stankey, and TPG CEO Jon Winkelried, the Senators wrote:
“It appears that this decision may be the latest example of big business suppressing politically disfavored speech at the behest of liberal Democrats. As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and as the incoming Ranking Members of the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees, which have jurisdiction over the communications industry and civil liberties, respectively, we are writing to request detailed and specific information about DirecTV’s actions. Congress and the public have a right to know the extent to which DirecTV’s decision to drop Newsmax was politically motivated, including whether the company succumbed to pressure from administration officials or Democrats in Congress.
“DirecTV’s decision follows recent revelations of collusion between Big Tech companies and Democrat officials to label conservative speech as “misinformation” and censor it. The silencing of conservative speech at the request of government officials is a direct assault on free speech and a threat to democracy[…]
“It has been alleged that DirecTV pays substantial sums to numerous channels that are politically left-of-center, even when those channels have substantially lower ratings than Newsmax. And, it has been alleged that DirecTV refused to pay any net sums whatsoever to Newsmax—and expressly stated that it never would pay any net sums to Newsmax—even though explicitly liberal stations with substantially fewer viewers were receiving millions of dollars from DirecTV.”
As the Senators note, DirecTV has now dropped two of America’s largest conservative news networks, Newsmax and One America News Network (OANN), during the past two years.
"In January 2022, DirecTV dropped One America News Network (OANN), less than a year after Democrat leaders in Congress sent a letter pushing the CEO of AT&T, DirecTV’s largest shareholder, to stop carrying OANN, Newsmax, and Fox News. These three networks were the three largest conservative news networks in America, and now—in less than a year—DirecTV has de-platformed two of them."
The Senators asked the companies to answer a number of questions, including: whether DirecTV, AT&T, or TPG communicated with any federal, state, or local government officials regarding the decisions to drop Newsmax or OANN, and whether those government officials made any threats or promised any inducements to pressure DirecTV, AT&T, or TPG to drop Newsmax or OANN.
The Senators also requested that the companies preserve and turn over a number of records related to DirecTV’s decisions to drop Newsmax and OANN, including any communications they have had with the White House, Democrat members of Congress, or Democrat campaign committees relating to Newsmax or OANN.
To read the full text of this letter click here.