The 68-year-old son of slain 1968 Democrat Presidential hopeful, Bobby Kennedy, along with eleven other plaintiffs, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, against The Washington Post, BBC, Associated Press, and Reuters, demanding trial by jury.
Documents presented to the court, and subsequently made available by the Children’s Health Defense foundation, describe the lawsuit as both an ‘antitrust action,’ and ‘action to defend freedom of speech, and the press.’
The 96-page Complaint claims, largely leftist, legacy media incorporated, partnered with technocrats, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter, in what the plaintiffs said was a communications cabal named, the “Trusted News Initiative (TNI).”
Kennedy contends those within the TNI ‘agreed to work together, to exclude from the world’s dominant Internet platforms rival news publishers [who were] reporting on certain issues relating to COVID-19 and U.S. politics.’
Labelled as a ‘group boycott,’ lawyers representing Kennedy allege the COVID communications cabal’s crackdown on C19-related content was (is) a blatant violation of the ‘1890 FTC Sherman Act,’ which aims to protect free, and unfettered competition.
Plaintiffs maintain TNI’s ‘unlawful group boycott’ was,
“a concerted attempt by a group of competitors” to “disadvantage [other] competitors by either directly denying or persuading or coercing suppliers or customers to deny relationships the competitors need in the competitive struggle” or by “cut[ting] off access to a supply, facility, or market necessary to enable the boycotted firm to compete.”
This includes, ‘small news publishers’ who need Internet platforms ‘to compete and even to survive in the online news market.’
Further, ‘for all practical purposes, to be denied access to those platforms is to be denied access to the market itself.’
Point 12 of the lawsuit argues, the TNI cabal, while ‘publicly purporting to be a self-appointed “truth police” extirpating online “misinformation,” were, ‘in fact suppressing wholly accurate and legitimate reporting in furtherance of the economic self-interest of its members.’
Kennedy and company also accused legacy media, and big tech of colluding out of ‘economic self-interest.’
In an explosive claim made in point 18, plaintiffs allege the “Trusted News Initiative” censored competitors out of fear of competition, not out of concern for the facts.
“The TNI was spearheaded by legacy news organizations, like the Defendants, fearful of what they themselves described as an ‘existential threat’ to their economic survival.”
Point 18 of the lawsuit reasoned, “Thousands of new, rival sources of news threatened to take audience share away from traditional news organizations and to undermine consumers’ trust in those organizations.”
Backing the claims with a statement from the BBC statement, lawyers for Kennedy said,
19. This economic motivation was expressly admitted in 2022 by the founder of the TNI, the BCC:
“Of course the members of the Trusted News Initiative are…rivals… But in a crisis situation like this, absolutely, organizations have to focus on the things they have in common, rather than… their commercial… rivalries… [I]t’s important that trusted news providers club together. Because actually the real rivalry now is not between for example the BBC and CNN globally, it’s actually between all trusted news providers and a tidal wave of unchecked [reporting] that’s being piped out mainly through digital platforms…. That’s the real competition now in the digital media world. Of course organizations will always compete against one another for audiences. But the existential threat I think is that overall breakdown in trust, so that trusted news organizations lose in the long term if audiences just abandon the idea of a relationship of trust with news organizations. So actually we’ve got a lot more to hold us together than we have to work in competition with one another.”BBC & The Trusted News Initiative, Jamie Angus, Senior News Controller for BBC News, explains strategy to beat disinformation, Mar. 30, 2022
This was followed by claims the communications cabal,
“Was expressly formed to ‘impede the free flow of ideas,’ to ‘keep others from publishing,’ and to stifle “the widest possible dissemination of information from diverse and antagonistic sources.”
Lawyers concluded that the Trusted News Initiative were ‘a restraint on trade, and was unreasonable because they suppressed competition in the marketplace of ideas, offending the basic functions which a constitutionally guaranteed free press serves in our nation.’ (pp.7-8)
Put simply: the COVID cabal rejected free and fair competition, while simultaneously repressing freedom of the press, and the right to free speech.
Padding their case lawyers for the Plaintiffs referred to influential content providers such as Wired magazine editor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson, who explained,
“Every publisher knows that, at best, they are sharecroppers on Facebook’s massive industrial farm. If Facebook wanted to, it could quietly turn any number of dials that would harm a publisher—by manipulating its traffic, its ad network, or its readers.” (p.37)
Thompson’s comments joined statements from News Media Alliance president, David Chavern, who admitted,
“No news organization on its own can stand up to the platforms. The risk of demotion or exclusion from the platforms is simply too great.”
Kennedy’s lawsuit ingeniously argues,
“Those who defend big tech censorship frequently assert that de-platformed news publishers remain free to publish whatever they like on their own independent websites.”
“That’s technically true,” his lawyers added, “but the economic damage from de-platforming—typically a loss of over 90% of traffic—is devastating.
“The economic reality is that ‘exclusion from the world’s dominant Internet platforms means being shut out of the market.”
Summing up, the landmark lawsuit against legacy media stated that ‘all the elements of an ‘unlawful group boycott are present,’ in TNI’s COVID cabal monopolising the communications industry.
Returning to previous statements, Kennedy’s legal team damned the collaborative TNI collective, writing,
“The TNI’s core purpose, from the beginning, was to enlist the Big Tech platforms into a partnership with Legacy News publishers in order to achieve the suppression of competitively threatening online reporting—a suppression that the Legacy News Members could not achieve themselves.”
The lawsuit’s purpose, as outlined in the Complaint, is to seek a court order declaring the Trusted News Initiatives alleged anti-trust activities unlawful.
This coincides with the request for an order demanding the COVID communications cabal cease, and desist its harmful boycott, and censoring, of other online news publishers.
Kennedy’s lawsuit could be a massive game changer for newcomers to the fourth estate, a once proud institution, who, under the motto, “Democracy dies in darkness,” sought to keep bureaucrats accountable, not join them in being compromised by the love of power, money, and politics.
The lawsuit will impact small news organisations that’ve been at the back-hand of Silicon Valley censorship for presenting reasoned viewpoints which question the hegemony’s prevailing political narrative.
Watch this space.