Mitch McConnell Caves On Big Tech After Pressure

( Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, broke his promise on Tuesday to support a crucial bill that would hold Big Tech platforms accountable for the information they collect from news publishers’ websites.

According to reports, McConnell sent a message to Democrats in the Senate and House that he would oppose any add-ons after some Republican senators complained the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was being used to piggyback unrelated legislation.

In the text of the NDAA that was made public on Tuesday, the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPAwas omitted.

Nearly all significant online conservative media outlets support the JCPA. Google and Facebook launched a full-scale lobbying and media offensive to block the inclusion of the JCPA in the NDAA after press reports suggested McConnell would support it. If lawmakers passed the bill, Facebook said it would consider removing news from its platform.

Reports show the proposal would have established a safe harbor from antitrust law, allowing news organizations and broadcasters to demand better terms for online content distribution jointly.  The law also forbids participation by large, established media companies.  Only publishers with fewer than 1,500 employees are permitted.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, successfully included an amendment to the bill that safeguards against Big Tech companies targeting or de-ranking websites based on ideology. This amendment is a crucial safeguard for conservative media.

Many organizations and think tanks connected to Google and Facebook released a flurry of press releases criticizing the bill as the JCPA was poised to be added to the NDA.

The News Media Alliance, a group of small and medium-sized publishers who lack the clout to negotiate financial and content agreements with Big Tech, had endorsed the bill. News Corp., the major global publisher of newspapers that Rupert Murdoch owns and controls, provided initial support for the News Media Alliance. Fox News, a subsidiary of News Corp., is also under Murdoch’s control.

However, News Corp. successfully persuaded Australia’s parliament to enact a law that, like the JCPA, required Google and Facebook to compensate publishers for the content they link to.

Facebook also warned Australia’s parliament that it would stop displaying publishers’ content in newsfeeds if the law was passed. The company’s threatened shutdown was never carried out.

Is there anyone in Congress willing to have one-issue vote sessions?