Conservatives who celebrate constitutional originalism should remember that the First Amendment protects against censorship by government.
The Trump Administration appears to be following through on the president’s threats to online freedom of speech. The attorney general of the United States is convening a meeting with state attorneys general “to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be…intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms.” Five Republican state attorneys general have been invited to attend so far.
The United States Senate Committee on Intelligence convened on Sept 5 to review the practices of internet platform companies, especially as they relate to protecting against any further election interference. What was notable was who refused to participate: the alpha dog of the internet—Google. Instead of an open back-and-forth that would educate both the senators and the public, Google determined that written testimony from their general counsel was sufficient.
[Commentary] Nothing immediately changed as a result of the decision by hundreds of newspapers across the country to run simultaneous, but independent, editorials defending freedom of the press and deploring President Donald Trump’s identification of the media as an enemy of the American people. Still, the newspapers’ action is a significant event. Depending on what happens in the next few years, it might even prove historic—for two reasons. First, the action is collective; second, it is institutional.
Sinclair Broadcasting has a right to establish that that they did not engage in “misrepresentations and/or lack of candor”—an assertion by the Federal Communications Commission—in matters related to its $3.9 billion acquisition of Tribune Media. The FCC has designated the matter for an administrative hearing before an administrative law judge. That hearing must go forward. The character of the licensee is an important component in determining whether the party is a fit trustee for the public’s airwaves.
As our economy becomes increasingly digitized, more transactions are moving online and outside of local tax jurisdictions, costing states billions in lost sales tax revenue. The recent Supreme Court decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair has opened the door for states to collect sales tax on online purchases made at out-of-state businesses. Applying state taxes on interstate commerce could not only recover lost revenues, but also make national e-commerce companies more invested in state government.
How far will the FCC pursue Sinclair Broadcasting’s “misrepresentations” now that President Trump has intervened?
It is heartening to see the Federal Communications Commission’s unanimous decision to designate the $3.9 billion Sinclair Broadcasting acquisition of Tribune Media for administrative review. Although unaccustomed to praising the Trump FCC, I believe this is an excellent decision. What happens next is worrisome, however, especially since President Donald Trump decided to tweet about the FCC’s decision. The tweet would seem to signal to Sinclair not to withdraw the transaction (a typical reaction to a designation for a hearing).