Amy Klobuchar crestfallen as push for controversial journalism bill sputters

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Mn.) is crestfallen after her push to get a controversial journalism bill passed in the lame-duck Congress appeared to falter.

Klobuchar was displeased as it became clear the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA) would not be included in a defense spending bill that was released late Tuesday.

Setback for Klobuchar

The JCPA provides a “safe harbor” anti-trust exemption to allow news publishers to collectively bargain with Big Tech.

Backers claim it evens the playing field for small, independent publishers, but a swath of left- and right-leaning critics say the bill would have the opposite effect by empowering big media “cartels.”

Reporter Gram Slattery said Klobuchar was “visibly frustrated” as momentum appeared to be fading amid pushback from Facebook.

“You can’t have 18 months of hearings over in the House of Representatives and then produce nothing. Right?” Klobuchar reportedly said.

Facebook had warned Monday that it may remove all news from its platform amid reports that lawmakers were planning to attach the JCPA to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a “must pass” defense bill that passes every year.

Controversial bill

More than two dozen mostly left-leaning groups had also blasted the push to attach the JCPA to the defense bill, warning the JCPA would mostly benefit big media and force Big Tech to promote “disinformation” and “hate speech.”

Right-leaning critics, on the other hand, have warned the bill would allow left-wing legacy media to censor conservatives out of the digital news business.

The bill was not included in the text of the NDAA when it became available late Tuesday, prompting an angry response from Klobuchar.

“Continually allowing the big tech companies to dominate policy decisions in Washington is no longer a viable option when it comes to news compensation, consumer and privacy rights, or the online marketplace.” Klobuchar said in a statement Wednesday. “We must get this done.”

“Democracy”

Klobuchar had a victory in September when she shepherded the bill out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with support from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.), over the objections of seven Republican senators.

“Platforms like Facebook and Google are counting on Republicans and Democrats being unable to put aside their differences to agree on meaningful legislation in the tech sector. This is our moment to prove them wrong,” she said at the time.

The failed 2020 presidential contender even claimed that “democracy relies” on the bill’s passage. It’s unclear if she still believes that is true now that the JCPA appears unlikely to pass.