Big Tech-Backed Group Tries to Kill California Bill Because It Could Help Conservative Media

by Jason Cohen


The Chamber of Progress, a tech industry coalition backed by companies such as Google and Meta, released statements and a study arguing against the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), stating it would primarily benefit conservative media outlets.

The California Assembly passed the CJPA on Thursday, a bill that compels companies like Google and Meta to pay publications for news links they post on their platforms, which would disproportionately enrich “disinformation giants like Fox News and the New York Post,” according to the Chamber of Progress. The coalition lists Google and Meta as corporate partners on its website and the Chamber of Progress’s founder and CEO, Adam Kovacevich, formerly headed Google’s U.S. policy strategy and external affairs team, according to its website. 

“This bill’s biggest winners aren’t California news outlets, they’re national media outlets known for spreading disinformation,” Kovacevich said in a statement. “By requiring online platforms to pay media outlets that produce viral articles, the CJPA actually makes the problem worse by incentivizing clickbait and misinformation.”

The Chamber of Progress conducted a study on the CJPA and found that “disinformation outlets including Fox News and the New York Post would profit the most.” Fox News would make 643 times as much money as small California newspapers and 844 times as much money as black California news publications, according to The Chamber of Progress’s analysis of its study.

“When you’re looking at trying to rein in the concentrated power of these enormous corporations, in this case, Facebook and Google, there’s bipartisan agreement on doing that,” Director of Policy for American Principles Project Jon Schweppe told the DCNF. “Most voters agree that we should do that. And these interest groups funded by Big Tech are doing everything they can to muddy the water and try to prevent that from happening.”

“When [Kovacevich] talks about this misinformation stuff, he is simply trying to peel off Democrats and get them to support Big Tech’s interests,” Schweppe added.

The Chamber of Progress used the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) to determine which outlets were allegedly publishing disinformation. The GDI is a United Kingdom-based nonprofit that describes itself as a “non-political” monitor that aims to “disrupt the business model of disinformation,” according to its website.

The GDI lists right-leaning outlets such as the New York Post and Newsmax as high and maximum risk level, and outlets like NPR and The New York Times as minimum risk.

“Labeling conservative outlets as ‘disinformation’ has long been a strategy of leftists to discredit any news outlet that doesn’t toe the line of liberal groupthink,” Founder and President of the Internet Accountability Project Mike Davis told the DCNF. “The Chamber of Progress is a radical group that seeks to instill far left ideology in everything it touches, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it would advocate for censorship of conservative or even moderate outlets. Conservative publications and independent journalists are the most likely to be victims of censorship from the gatekeepers at Big Tech, and the CJPA would take a sledgehammer to that power by making them finally pay conservative outlets.”

Meta has specifically opposed the CJPA, even threatening to eliminate news from its platforms in California if it becomes law, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

“If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram,” tweeted Andy Stone, policy communications director for Meta. He added that the bill “primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers.”

Chris Mackenzie, communications director for the Chamber of Progress told the DCNF that the coalition’s concern is not with every conservative media publication that stands to profit from this bill, “but specifically with outlets known for spreading disinformation.”

The Chamber of Progress lists its partners on its website and states it “remains true to our stated principles even when our partners disagree” and that none of the partner companies are on its board of directors or receive a vote on its output.

“We take policy positions independent of our partner companies, but we also try to be transparent about who our corporate partners are, so that when we’re supporting or opposing a piece of legislation that would impact them, our audience can make that judgement,” Mackenzie said.

He also pointed out that organizations that support the CJPA “have partners with a financial interest in seeing it pass.” He specifically mentioned The News Media Alliance, saying it “has close ties to national outlets.”

“Rather than supporting this bill as it currently stands, it may be more productive to consider alternative solutions that provide targeted support for local journalism and avoid unintended consequences,” The Chamber of Progress’s analysis of its study concludes.

The Chamber of Progress “grouped Fox News with the disinformation outlets listed by GDI as well because of their recent $787 million settlement over spreading election disinformation,” Mackenzie told the DCNF.

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Jason Cohen is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “California Capitol” by Steven Pavlov. CC BY-SA 3.0.



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