MRC UnCensored: Rachel Bovard Calls Weak Congressional Section 230 Hearing a ‘Slap in the Face’

May 31st, 2024 5:04 PM

Conservative Partnership Institute Senior Director of Policy Rachel Bovard dressed down Members of Congress and thinkers on the right who are wedded to an outdated mindset that allows for Big Tech censorship, debanking and ultimately the death of the free market. 

MRC Free Speech America Vice President Dan Schneider asked Bovard about the free market and a recent congressional hearing on Section 230 that largely ignored free speech concerns during the May 31 edition of MRC UnCensored,. Bovard called the hearing and the choice of witnesses “disappointing,” “insulting,” “an unserious effort” and a “slap in the face.” When Schneider mentioned his frustration that the hearing almost entirely ignored free speech concerns and actually pushed companies to censor more, Bovard did not hold back. 

“It’s kind of insane to me that years into this debate, reams of evidence into how these companies actually do censor certain types of speech, how they work with the government to do it, we now have the receipts of all this happening, that we’re still, that we could have a hearing run by republicans that doesn’t talk about this issue,” said Bovard. She added that the “unserious effort” was even more absurd “given how far down the road we are.” 

Schneider and Bovard both heavily criticized the House Energy and Commerce Committee for inviting three left-wing pro-censorship witnesses. Schneider also condemned the bill under consideration during the hearing, calling it “political suicide.” The bill called for the sunsetting of Section 230 at the end of 2025, which the Media Research Center-led Free Speech Alliance called “insufficient to address the underlying issues” surrounding Big Tech.

Bovard lamented the wasted opportunity. “The stakes couldn’t be higher, this is like an integral aspect of our electoral democracy, you know, speech rights, market access rights, not to mention all the harms facilitated online and none of this was addressed, it was just a very narrow slice of 230,” she said, before ripping the committee for inviting a witness connected to Google. 

Schneider credited Bovard with helping him see the way forward on fighting Big Tech censorship. “If you just have this truly, completely hands-off approach to the market,” Schneider reasoned, it can stop being free. Big bad actors can actually prevent free market forces from working appropriately.”

Bovard agreed, making the point that increasingly companies have prioritized ideology rather than profit and have “set up barriers to access to the market itself.” In light of these conditions, Bovard suggested that these Big Tech corporations had upended the old system where businesses prioritized finding as many customers as possible and where they were “going to allow all comers.” She followed with a call to action for how conservatives should act in light of the changing circumstances, including in response to censorship like debanking.

“And I think when that happens, you’re absolutely right, it is incumbent on us and the government in particular to ensure that the market is fair. You have to exert a certain amount of vigilance in the market place to just ensure that the market has access to it. And it’s crazy to me that this is where we are," Bovard said. She pointed out how “you have international banks, like Bank of America, Citigroup, JP Morgan, shutting down accounts of people because they don’t like their politics. That is crazy to me. When you can’t access the levers of capitalism, you can’t have a functioning free market. So I do think that there is a role for the government when that happens.”

Conservatives are under attack! Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency and an equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.