Controversy is heating up over a piece of bipartisan legislation dubbed the RESTRICT Act. While supporters argue it will curb foreign online threats, many conservatives say the bill represents a dangerous attack on civil liberties.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham is one of the RESTRICT Act's sponsors, and he tried to distance himself from it during an appearance on Fox News. However, things quickly took a wrong turn.
According to the Daily Caller, Fox News host Jesse Watter began the segment by saying, "Did the United States Senate just say we are going to protect you from China by spying on you?"
"Let’s try to get some answers out of Sen. Lindsey Graham who supports this and is here now," Watters continued before adding, "You have got to be kidding me, Senator. Did you read this?"
YIKES — Jesse Watters asks Sen. Lindsey Graham why he is co-sponsoring the “RESTRICT Act”, he says he doesn’t support it and then Watters torches him:
“Maybe it’s like Fetterman where your Chief of Staff does all your work for you” 🔥
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) March 29, 2023
"I don’t think I support the RESTRICT Act," Graham said in response. That led a shocked Watters to point out that Graham is listed as one of the bill's sponsors.
The South Carolina senator attempted to stress the danger posed by TikTok, a Chinese-owned social media platform that has been criticized for taking personal information from users.
"Here’s the problem as I see it. China is the parent company of TikTok and my nieces like TikTok," the Daily Caller quoted Graham as saying.
"I don’t mind them using TikTok. I just don’t want the Chinese government to seize all their data and manipulate the information America sees for political purposes. China is helping drug cartels in Mexico. China is not a friend," he added.
That didn't satisfy Watters, who said, "You have got to go back and talk to the other senators about this. This thing is nuts. And it’s going to get abused like it always does. We have got to clean this up. Can we clean this up?"
Watters is not alone in raising alarm, as fellow Fox News host Tucker Carlson also warned viewers on Monday about the RESTRICT Act.
He said it "would give enormous and terrifying new powers to the federal government to punish American citizens and regulate how they communicate with one another."
Carlson asserted that the bill would permit "the executive branch, the Biden administration, to regulate speech on the Internet and if you are somehow involved with a 'foreign adversary' or let's say you oppose the war against Russia, you're going to prison for 20 years."
"So, this isn't about banning TikTok," Carlson insisted, stressing, "This is about introducing flat out totalitarianism into our system."