GOP congressman compares TV provider dropping Newsmax to Holocaust

A Missouri Republican says a contract dispute between DirecTV and Newsmax is akin to the systematic murder committed by the Nazis during the Second World War

Andrew Feinberg
Wednesday 01 February 2023 19:38 GMT

When Republican members of the House of Representatives on Tuesday took to the floor of their chamber for an hour-long airing of grievances in support of a GOP-friendly cable news channel, one of them decided it would be appropriate to compare the satellite television carriage dispute to the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

Eric Burlison, a freshman representative who was sworn in as the House member for Missouri’s 7th District less than a month ago, first compared DirecTV’s decision to cease carrying the right-wing Newsmax channel to an aborted Department of Homeland Security effort to combat disinformation, and suggested the satellite television provider was abusing “special privileges” the government has granted it.

Late last month, DirecTV ceased carrying the signal of the pro-Trump outlet after the carriage agreement between Newsmax and the satellite provider expired. Newsmax, which previously granted DirecTV the right to carry the channel free of charge, had demanded a new agreement under which the company would be charged for the right to beam the channel into subscribers’ homes.

Instead, DirecTV chose to replace Newsmax with another right-wing channel, The First.

Carriage disputes between content providers and multi-channel video service distributors are not uncommon in the US. But in the weeks since the satellite network dropped their signal, Newsmax management and personnel have used their platform to accuse DirecTV and its parent company, AT&T, of “censoring” the channel because of its’ right-wing outlook.

Last year, AT&T also ceased carrying another right-wing channel, One America News, which had even fewer viewers but earned a place as a favourite of former president Donald Trump by broadcasting his lies about the conduct of the 2020 election.

Mr Burlison compared the fate of the two channels in his floor remarks.

“These companies choose to silence conservative speech by first deplatforming or eliminating One America News and now they're going after Newsmax,” he said.

He then compared the right-wing channels to the fate of Jews in Hitler’s Germany, citing — but not quoting — a famous quote from German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller about the price of not speaking out against Nazism.

“You know, there's a famous quote about what happened during the Holocaust when the Nazis first came for some, and people said nothing. And then eventually they'll come for you,” he said.

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