BY KYLE MARTIN
Daily Post Staff Writer
Most of Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s constituents don’t think the government should send letters to cable or internet television providers suggesting they shut down certain news channels, according to a survey commissioned by three people who want the tech industry to create standards on political content.
The poll was in response to letters Eshoo sent to several companies in February asking pointed questions about their decisions to carry conservative networks such as Fox News.
The result is an eyebrow-raiser since Eshoo’s district is overwhelmingly Democratic and she’s a popular political figure, typically winning re-election over the years by ratios of two-to-one.
Los Altos Hills resident Mike Matthys, alongside Los Altos resident Brian Jackson and Euless, Texas, resident John Quinn, commissioned a nonpartisan telephone survey March 2-4 asking her constituents whether they thought the government should regulate which TV channels they can watch.
59% disapprove of Eshoo’s letters
Their survey shows that 59% of the 250 respondents surveyed say congressional leaders sending letters to cable and internet companies asking about how they decide to carry conservative news channels is wrong.
“We’re looking at these issues of free speech and free press and censorship online because we are nonpartisan,” Matthys said in an interview on April 15.
In many cases, those who received the letter from Eshoo come from the tech world. Now that they’re being pressured to block subscribers from watching certain channels or visiting websites, they’re encountering editorial issues for the first time in their careers.
“These CEOs are kind of stuck in the middle. They didn’t ask for this job to become the arbiters of information.”
Matthys and his colleagues decided to commission the survey after Eshoo and Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, sent cable TV companies and internet providers of TV channels letters asking why they carry certain conservative news channels, such as Fox News, Newsmax and the One America News Network, or OANN.
The two politicians, who sit on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, asked the CEOs of 12 carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, Roku, Apple, Hulu, Google and Xfinity, if the carriers apply ethical or moral principles when they decide what channels to offer because Eshoo and McNerney claim certain conservative channels intentionally spread misinformation.
Eshoo previously told the Post her letters “do not make any law, do not have the force of law and do not threaten any laws.”
But Matthys, who works for Palo Alto-based venture capital firm Doorga Captial, said that Eshoo’s letters shows that there could soon be “heavy-hand-ed government regulation” on how people consume news.
New group formed
And because of Eshoo’s letters, Matthys and his colleagues Jackson and Quinn co-founded a nonpartisan group called “The First and Fourteenth Institute,” to persuade tech companies to grant greater transparency in how they handle such issues. The company’s name references the First and Fourteenth amendments to the constitution, which ensure freedom of speech, freedom of the press and the right to due process.
“The major finding is that this very liberal-leaning and very Democrat-leaning part of the country does not agree with Anna Eshoo’s action to try to censor conservative news,” Matthys said.
Matthys said they hired The Wickers Group of San Francisco to conduct the survey.
“We would prefer a market-oriented solution rather than a government-oriented solution,” Matthys said. “We think it’s very important to be nonpartisan and that this is not a political issue. This is more about what’s important for fairness and progress.”
Previous items about Eshoo’s letters