The Heritage Foundation is outraged at Tucker Carlson.
Last week, the popular Fox News host attacked Heritage and many other conservative nonprofits for colluding with Silicon Valley and Big Tech. Carlson argued that Heritage defends Big Tech’s special privileges and publishes papers that echo the tech lobby’s talking points.
“As an organization, Heritage no longer represents the interests of conservatives, at least on the question of tech,” Carlson declared.
Tucker Carlson Slamming Conservative Inc. for Defending Big Tech
Tucker Calls Out
-American Conservative Union
“Big Tech Companies silence Conservatives, Conservative Non-Profits try to prevent the government from doing anything about it.” pic.twitter.com/pskAfg4tTB
— The Columbia Bugle ???????? (@ColumbiaBugle) December 21, 2019
That segment drew an irate response from Heritage. “Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson made several false, outrageous, and unfounded accusations against The Heritage Foundation,” Heritage Vice President of Communications Robert Bluey wrote in the think tank’s rebuttal.
Bluey claimed that Heritage’s paper about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which Tucker singled out for its close resemblance to Big Tech talking points, was not based on a tech lobby’s paper because it contained footnotes. Section 230 is a prized treasure to tech platforms because it protects them from publisher liabilities. One reason tech platforms are granted this privilege is out of the assumption they operate a neutral political forums.
Heritage supports this protection, even though tech giants abuse it with their censorship and bias against conservatives. The reason: “Heritage supports empowering consumers rather than government.”
Bluey claims Heritage personnel frequently criticize Big Tech, yet none of their critiques deal with its censorship. The criticism Bluey highlights only covers national security issues.
The Heritage vice president does claim Heritage has been the victim of tech bias. Google disbanded its artificial intelligence advisory board last spring because of a controversy surrounding Heritage President Kay Cole James serving on it. A video produced by Heritage subsidiary The Daily Signal was censored by YouTube. Heritage, however, was lukewarm in response to both actions.
Bluey describes James “blasting” Google for its decision, but her Washington Post op-ed was more conciliatory than he allows. She was “outraged” particularly that Google would do such a disservice to supporters such as herself.
“How can Google now expect conservatives to defend it against anti-business policies from the left that might threaten its very existence?” James bemoaned in her response. James’s statement implies she was eager to defend the tech giant against “anti-business policies,” which further supports Tucker’s argument. Her appointment to Google’s AI advisory board raises the question: why did Google see Heritage’s president as an ally in the first place?
Google’s bias and censorship was well known prior to 2019, yet James decided to lend her conservative credibility to the company.
Heritage’s response to YouTube’s censorship was primarily to complain to Google in private about the matter. Bluey makes it clear that the outrageous act did not persuade the venerable conservative think tank to change its views about Big Tech.
Ultimately, Bluey’s statement did not refute Tucker’s argument.
The Heritage report Tucker criticized is just as bad as he portrayed it. The paper by Heritage fellow Diane Katz criticizes Senator Josh Hawley’s tech censorship bill as a big government idea and claims “free enterprise” is the only remedy for Big Tech. Instead of the government regulating Big Tech, Katz calls for more deregulation of Big Tech.
Katz’s other ridiculous suggestions to concerned consumers include arguing that conservatives should create their own Facebook and or use social media’s appeal process as it already exists—as if good faith can be assumed. She also says social media giants should do more to fact check content, an idea liberals love.
Carlson is also correct that certain lines in the Heritage report sound eerily similar to the tech lobby’s talking points. The Heritage report stated, “The statutory liability protection at issue is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which has been called ‘the most important law protecting Internet speech.’” Heritage was quoting from the Electronic Freedom Foundation, an organization that has been exposed as a virtual lobbying organization for Google on Section 230. The Computer and Communications Industry Association, an explicit tech lobbying group, decided to use that exact quote in a press release against Hawley’s bill, noting it had “provided Congress with resources to better understand why Section 230 has been called ‘the most important law in tech.’”
This isn’t the only place where Heritage’s arguments overlapped with Silicon Valley lobbyists. As Breitbart’s Allum Bokhari notes, Heritage compared stripping Big Tech’s special privileges to the “Fairness Doctrine.” Who else made this argument? The Internet Association and Net Choice, two trade associations that both represent Google and Facebook.
Given the similarities, there are two possibilities: Heritage is basing their paper directly from tech lobbyists, or tech lobbyists have so thoroughly inundated Conservative, Inc. that Heritage echoes their talking points without even realizing it.
Bluey was invited to President Trump’s social media summit in July. The event was supposed to gather voices who face censorship and want a solution from the White House. Bluey, however, made it clear that Heritage wants no serious solution if it is directed against Big Tech. “There will be people pushing for the government to be more active,” he told Forbes. “We don’t think so. These are private companies, and we don’t think they should be regulated or subjected antitrust.”
Klon Kitchen, Heritage’s chief tech policy analyst, called the government regulation of tech platforms the “worst idea” from “conservative grievance culture.” The statement implies conservatives shouldn’t be concerned about Big Tech’s bias and censorship.
There’s a conservative grievance culture emerging and it’s producing very bad policy ideas.
— Klon Kitchen (@klonkitchen) September 1, 2018
It’s obvious that Heritage uses its power and influence to defend Big Tech’s interests. Tucker Carlson was right about its coziness with Big Tech. Heritage is just upset the shoe fits.