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Ranking Member Nadler Opening Statement for the House Judiciary Committee Hearing, “Collusion in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media”

Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, for the House Judiciary Committee Hearing, “Collusion in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media”: 


"Mr. Chairman, this hearing has nothing to do with antitrust law, since the Majority’s allegations wither under even the most basic antitrust analysis. This is, instead, another dangerous effort by the Majority to bully companies into promoting and supporting far-right extremist views—views that brands, understandably, do not want to be associated with.


In this case, the Majority seeks to undermine companies’ First Amendment rights and to make it harder for them to avoid monetizing online and offline harm through advertising.


This includes harm like the creation and distribution of exploitative images and videos of children, the promotion of terrorism and funding of terrorist organizations, the promotion and distribution of foreign propaganda materials, and the promotion and distribution of racist, hateful, and discriminatory content.


Under the Majority’s theory of supposed “antitrust harm,” advertisers who do not want their expensive ad campaigns placed next to hate speech, pirated copyrighted material, foreign propaganda and other harmful content are “colluding” to demonetize so-called conservative content.


Under the Majority’s theory, the only way to cure this alleged harm would be for advertisers to be FORCED to run ads on platforms like Twitter—now known as X—Truth Social, Breitbart, and The Daily Wire, even though those sites are rife with adult content, hate speech, false information, misinformation, and racist and violent propaganda.


Further undermining this claim of harm, the so called “victims” of this made-up scheme, are well supported by ad revenue, subscriber revenue, and sales revenue.


Take The Daily Wire, the media outlet run by Republican witness Ben Shapiro. Its website generated $220 million last year. His show was the 13th most popular podcast in the first quarter of 2024. His website has over 15 million followers across its main social media handles, including on sites that are members of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, also known as GARM, the target of today’s hearing.


And The Daily Wire “received more likes, shares, and comments on Facebook”—which, we should note, is a member of GARM—"than any other news publisher by a wide margin” in 2021. And even the video in which Mr. Shapiro claims to be the victim of “global [advertising] organizations” was itself supported by advertising revenue and is available on YouTube, a member of GARM. This hardly sounds like the victim of a conspiracy to suppress content.


But Mr. Shapiro’s content is not alone. Many so-called conservative brands have made notable gains in corporate reputation among consumers and several brands that call themselves “anti-woke” have entered the market to cater to customers who wish to vote with their wallet.


Advertisers have the right to target their ads to the platforms, websites and venues they choose. By forcing advertisers to run ads on websites that they deem to contain harmful information and content, the Majority would be undermining those companies’ right to free speech under the First Amendment.


It is also an essential tenet of a free market that companies are not forced to do business with anyone. And indeed, a competitive online environment is necessary for advertisers to easily choose where and how their ads are rolled out.


Historically, this Committee has worked hard to protect consumers, ensure a free and fair market, and push back on corporate abuse, greed, and malfeasance. We advanced bipartisan bills to combat market concentration, from online platforms to drug pricing.


We did all this because we took our job seriously: to protect competition in the marketplace. We understood the unique importance of the federal antitrust laws—not as a weapon to use against our political opponents, but as an essential component of the American social contract.


Unfortunately, this Majority has picked a different direction. Under the direction of the Chair, the Committee is abusing its oversight authority. The Republicans are so committed to the belief that “conservative content” is being “censored,” despite all evidence to the contrary, that they will do anything to undermine the efforts of:

  • Platforms to moderate their own content, which the Supreme Court recently affirmed is an exercise of their First Amendment rights;
  • Governments to communicate with platforms about security threats, online and offline crime and terrorism, and mis- and dis-information that threatens our nation’s health and democracy; and
  • Companies to choose where and how to advertise their products.

This hearing is the result of a 15-month investigation that has resulted in over 37 productions to the Committee of more than 175 thousand pages and one transcribed interview. I can only assume that the reason the Majority has not asked GARM—the main target of this investigation—to send a witness here today is that the Majority KNOWS there is no evidence to support their claim of wrongdoing.


Their investigation was not designed to uncover unlawful behavior, because they knew there was none. Instead, it was designed to chill companies’ exercise of their First Amendment rights.


It was designed to make companies afraid to speak to each other about the real connection between the online monetization of criminal and harmful content and the funding of offline harm.


Make no mistake, the companies represented here today and the others that are part of GARM want, first and foremost, for customers to see their ads where and when they expect them, and to make purchases based on those ads. But secondly, and importantly, they do not want their expensive ad campaigns to fund people: (1) who pirate content; (2) who promote and execute terrorist acts; (3) who make and distribute harmful and exploitative images of children; and (4) others who use the internet to distribute and fund crime.


Republicans are so determined to prove their conspiracy theory that “conservative content” is being “censored” that they will do anything, including launching a fruitless and harmful investigation to bully companies that do not hold their views.


I hope that we will get back to doing the serious work of the American people very soon and not continue to waste taxpayer dollars on fishing expeditions designed to help hate and criminal activity spread on and offline.


I thank the witnesses for appearing today, and I yield back the balance of my time."
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