Fox News host Tucker Carlson attacked the Heritage Foundation on Friday night, claiming that it “no longer represents the interests of conservatives” on the issue of big tech – a claim that was met by strong push back from the Heritage Foundation.
Carlson made the remarks in a segment about “how Google, Facebook, and Twitter work in secret to impose a left-wing political agenda on this country.” Carlson cited multiple documented examples of things that big tech companies have done that clearly work against those who are conservative.
Carlson, a few minutes later, transitioned into why he thinks Congress does not act and push back against the tech companies for their bias against conservatives.
Here are the relevant remarks from Carlson where he attacks the Heritage Foundation:
Why all the inaction on these questions? Well, a big part of the problem is that conservative nonprofits here in Washington, the ones that are supposed to be looking out for you, aren’t actually looking out for you. They’re looking out for big tech. A new report from The Campaign For Accountability obtained by this show highlights how conservative organizations in D.C. have colluded with big tech to shield left-wing monopolies from any oversight at all. It’s an amazing story and it’s happening now.
In all, the Koch network quietly spent at least $10 million defending Silicon Valley companies that work to silence conservatives. The richest companies in the world being defended by a “conservative” nonprofit as they attack conservatives. Why are they doing this? As one former Koch employee recently told this show off the record, “I know for a fact they take money from social media companies to do their bidding.” And it turns out, he was right. Google has given money to at least 22 right-leaning institutions that are also funded by the Koch network. Those institutions also include the American Conservative Union, the American Enterprise Institute, the National Review Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Mercatus Center, we could go on.
Here’s how it works: Big tech companies silence conservatives. Conservatives’ nonprofits try to prevent the government from doing anything about it. Makes sense.
Then there’s the Heritage Foundation – maybe the biggest and best funded think tank in Washington. Half the conservatives in the city have seemed to work there at one time or another. Almost 30 years ago, I did, for example. To this day, there are a lot of nice and very well-meaning people at Heritage. But, as an organization, Heritage no longer represents the interests of conservatives – at least on the question of tech. A recent paper by Heritage entitled “Free enterprise is the best remedy for online bias concerns,” defends the special privileges that Congress has given to left-wing Silicon Valley monopolies. And if conservatives don’t like it, Heritage says, well they can just start their own Google. The paper could’ve been written by tech lobbyists. In fact, it may have been written by tech lobbyists. A trade association that represents Silicon Valley called the liability exemption that Googles enjoys, “the most important law in tech.”
Well, Heritage’s paper repeats that line verbatim. Word for word. Along with many other lines that the lobbyists wrote. It’s embarrassing. But heritage isn’t embarrassed. None of the so-called “conservative nonprofits” in Washington are embarrassed. They make deals with people who hate you; they secretly sell out your interests; then they beg you to tithe like it’s the medieval church, like you owe them your money. That’s the system that we’ve had for decades. And maybe that’s why, no matter how much money you send, nothing gets more conservative. Just the opposite. You wonder how much longer the system can continue?
The Heritage Foundation responded with a statement on Saturday, saying that Carlson’s segment contained “several false, outrageous, and unfounded accusations against The Heritage Foundation.”
Rob Bluey, vice president of communications at Heritage, released the following statement in response:
For nearly 50 years, The Heritage Foundation has represented the interests of the American people based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional values, and a strong national defense. Heritage does not support policies that deviate from these principles, nor are our recommendations ever influenced by donations or outside political pressure.
It was, therefore, incredibly disappointing to hear Tucker Carlson, whom we hold in high regard, mislead his viewers about Heritage’s work on the topics of big tech and censorship. Carlson is a former employee of Heritage who last year received our prestigious Salvatori Prize and who regularly features Heritage guests on his Fox News program. In other words, he knows Heritage, our people, and our principles.
Unfortunately, Carlson did not contact us in advance of his segment or provide Heritage with an opportunity to respond to his accusations. Rather than engage in a substantive policy debate, he chose instead to make ad hominem attacks and question our integrity. We are disappointed this came from someone whom we admire and respect.
The Heritage Foundation will not let these attacks go unanswered and we welcome the opportunity to have a substantive debate on public policy.
Carlson’s claims began with an attack on a recent Heritage report about Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. He claimed the report’s author repeated lines verbatim from a trade association. This is false. In fact, the 13-page Heritage report contained 22 footnotes, all of which were properly quoted and attributed to sources. The report went through a thorough and lengthy process of vetting and review by Heritage scholars to ensure accuracy and agreement among all Heritage analysts involved in technology and social media policy.
The conclusions of Heritage’s report were based on the principles that guide all of our policy recommendations—principles Carlson seems curiously less interested in defending. Instead, he made an unfounded assertion against Heritage and outrageous smear of one of our scholars. It is disappointing that Carlson would deceive his viewers with such patently false information.
It should come as no surprise that Heritage supports empowering consumers rather than government. We are, and have always been, champions of the free market and critics of government intervention. That’s why we are forcefully pushing back on the few outspoken individuals who seem to prefer an expedient answer rather than a principled solution.
Carlson also failed to acknowledge Heritage experts’ consistent criticism of technology companies, including Google’s decision to withdraw from the Department of Defense’s Project Maven and its work with communist China on a censored search engine.
He apparently missed Heritage President Kay C. James’ Washington Post op-ed blasting Google for caving to the radical left and disbanding its AI board simply because she, a prominent conservative leader, was asked to join it.
And he made no mention of Google-owned YouTube censoring a video produced by The Daily Signal, Heritage’s multimedia news outlet. On our public platforms and in a private meeting with YouTube’s CEO, we made our position abundantly clear: We will not tolerate this type of censorship and will stand side by side with other conservatives experiencing similar challenges.
Heritage and its team of dedicated scholars are committed to pursuing public policies that make life better for all Americans. Heritage is the largest public policy organization in America with more than 500,000 members and has the No. 1 ranking from the University of Pennsylvania for impact on public policy. We won’t be intimidated or bullied as we continue to represent the interests of conservatives and all Americans.
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