Video file

Citation From OAN coverage on July 8, 2022

CHANEL RION (OAN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT): Many Republicans are quick to blame Big Tech for censoring their voices, and they're certainly right to do so. But Big Tech isn't the only censor bully lurking in the shadows. Big telecom is right there with them, vowing to the establishment and Democrat wishes. Here to discuss is Breitbart's senior technology correspondent, Allum Bokhari. Allum, you wrote an extremely intriguing article where you call out the — the impact that telecommunications companies like Verizon have in political censorship, in silencing conservative voices, and ensuring that the American people don't get both sides of the story. Give us some context about why there should be a lot of alarm about big telecom now engaging in censorship.

ALLUM BOKHARI (BREITBART): It's not happening behind the scenes. Democrat politicians are outwardly saying that telecommunications companies should be dropping conservatives. So the way to think about this is really every — every platform that could possibly provide a voice to conservatives, whether it's a tech company or a social or a social media platform or a telecommunications company, they are all being pressured to — to remove conservative voices because the left is set in complete domination of — of the information space.

RION: You just mentioned the lawmakers. That was and particularly this is Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney. These are two Democratic Congress members who wrote a letter to Verizon, to DirectTV, Comcast, and Cox. And their message was that in order to, quote, protect the American people, it's incumbent upon them to take OAN off the air. They specifically named OAN.

BOKHARI: Right. And it's entirely because of the content of your reporting. It's simply they object to the viewpoint you guys are getting across. There's no other issue at hand here. It's just about suppressing certain viewpoints. And it's a shame that this has become such a partisan issue. Ideally, I think, both parties in America should value free speech, but they don't. That's why you have Democrat politicians who now think it's OK to get cable companies kicked off the — kicked off of telecommunications platforms. And they also think it's OK for social media companies to deplatform the president of the United States, as we saw last year. So, you know, there's no — these guys see no limit at all on the level of censorship they will demand. 

RION: You wrote this article this week and you talk about how Verizon specifically targeted the Trump campaign. It's targeting OAN and other right-wing news organizations. Why — why now? Was something flagged for you that caused you to want to write about this this week?

BOKHARI: Well, it seems like a new frontier because everyone, as I said earlier, everyone knows about the social media censorship. But fewer people know that Democrats from the left are moving on to other targets now. And I've covered the payment processor issue before, people getting kicked off PayPal and Venmo and Stripe. But this telecommunications thing is a new one. And I think it's a very, very important one because telecommunications companies are actually more influential than the social media companies. They control access to the entire internet. We haven't seen any censorship at the level of internet service providers yet, but if we did, then we could see people losing access to the internet altogether, even to their personal websites and things like that, which I know there's no law stopping them from doing that. And if you think the left won't go to those lengths, then you don't know what the left is capable of.

RION: Well, in the case of Verizon threatening to drop OAN in particular, the timing of that, at least from our end, seems to be right before the midterms, right when the American public tend to have recovered from the political fatigue of the presidential election, and then they start tuning in to become informed about who they will vote for in the midterms.

BOKHARI: But certainly, I think we saw in 2020 as well, censorship does tend to ramp up before elections. I mean, we saw in the case of Breitbart News, Google removed us from search — almost completely wiped this out of search results in the run-up to 2020. So it's not — it wouldn't be surprising to me if there was some election timing element here as well that they're targeting you guys just before the midterms.

RION: Great work. Thank you for joining us and laying this out and covering this because again, very few seem interested in the contextual impact of big telecom now censoring us from not only a cable perspective, from a text message perspective, it hits every American. It really does. So, Allum, thank you so much for joining us.