“We are in the midst of a trust crisis in the world of media,” said conservative personality Ben Shapiro at the start of his remarks before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Shapiro along with Unilever USA president Herrish Patel, global CEO of GroupM Christian Juhl and competitive law scholar Spencer Waller appeared during a hearing Wednesday called “Collusion in the Global Alliance for Responsible Media.”

During his testimony, Shapiro said the mainstream media works to preserve left-wing narratives and gave the example of how media outlets have reported on President Joe Biden’s mental competency. He said when there were questions previously about Biden’s health, those were dismissed.

Then, Shapiro said, Biden’s lackluster debate performance showed why so many Americans have lost trust in the media.

“The question isn’t really why the legacy media have lost Americans’ trust; we know that answer,” said Shapiro. “The question is why, despite that loss of trust, the legacy media continue to gain share in the advertising market.”

Shapiro said it was because of pressure put on social media companies by Democratic politicians and the White House to censor the content of conservatives.

Shapiro: Group helps advertisers avoid conservative sites

Pointing toward the Global Alliance for Responsible Media, an initiative aimed at addressing what the group calls “harmful content” online, Shapiro said the standards this group employs — which advertisers and platforms use — are partisan in nature.

Shapiro said the group also has extensive reach.

“Its members account for 90% of ad spending in the United States, almost $1 trillion,” Shapiro stated. “In other words, if you’re not getting ad dollars from GARM members, it’s nearly impossible to run an ad-based business.”

Daily Wire, a conservative media group co-founded by Shapiro, has experienced the impact of this, he said. “Since 2021, after Democrat officials further turned up the heat on social media companies, my personal Facebook page has seen an over 80% drop in impressions.”

The solution is to protect the First Amendment, said Shapiro, and he explained two ways that could happen.

Shapiro said firstly, Congress could investigate informal and formal agreements between GARM and executive branch and agencies.

“Second, Congress can itself stop engaging in violation of free speech principles.”

After Shapiro’s opening testimony, Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, R-Wisc., asked him to explain the importance of advertising when growing a company.

Shapiro said when the Daily Wire started, it also totally relied on advertising revenue. The company was able to amass a subscriber base that accounts for much more of their revenue now, he said. But Shapiro said he was concerned about start-up companies that might be barred from receiving advertising revenue for partisan reasons.

Swalwell questions Shapiro about Project 2025

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., said Shapiro wouldn’t get any censorship from him, but said he wanted to know how much Shapiro supported Project 2025 (a set of conservative policy proposals from The Heritage Foundation).

“I think, like President Trump, I haven’t looked all that deeply at Project 2025, but it seems that Democrats on this committee, sort of like Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, think if they say Project 2025 enough, their presidential candidate becomes alive again,” said Shapiro.

Swalwell said he would go through parts of Project 2025 and asked him about different parts of the policy.

When asking Shapiro if he wanted less bureaucracy and more efficiency, Shapiro said he did and Swalwell agreed. Swalwell then directed the conversation toward Shapiro’s views on immigration, the abortion pill, same-sex marriage and social security.

“I’m not sure why I’m testifying on immigration at this point,” said Shapiro as he explained he did not support deportations in cases where people were working and paying taxes, but he does support deportations when the government benefits given exceed what the person puts into the system.

“You cannot yell fire in a crowded theater — and that’s a restriction on speech as you have recognized before — but you can yell theater in a crowded fire,” said Swalwell, as he suggested the committee was wasting time.

Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., was critical of Swalwell for his questioning of Shapiro, particularly as it pertained to his religious views.

Bishop asked Shapiro about the accuracy of the standards imposed by GARM — to which Shapiro responded that he thought they were vague and imposed subjectively.

Twitter and the fight over free speech

The House report on GARM

The committee released a report Wednesday with its findings.

“Through GARM, large corporations, advertising agencies and industry associations participated in boycotts and other coordinated action to demonetize platforms, podcasts, news outlets, and other content deemed disfavored by GARM and its members,” the report said. “This collusion can have the effect of eliminating a variety of content and viewpoints available to consumers.”

The report delved into examples including when “GARM and its members discussed a strategy of blocking certain news outlets like Fox News, The Daily Wire and Breitbart News.” The committee included emails and statements from John Montgomery (GroupM), Rob Rakowitz (GARM) and Joe Barone (GroupM).

“I don’t know Daily Wire that well, but I would imagine that most of our clients wouldn’t want to be on either side of politically divisive content, so they probably block them anyway. ... If we block DW — why wouldn’t we (be) blocking Fox News?” Montgomery wrote in an email.

Barone said, “(W)e have Daily Wire on our Global High Risk exclusion list, categorized as Conspiracy Theories.”

The report also cited Dan Rakowitz, the co-founder of GARM, as expressing frustrating about the “extreme global interpretations of the U.S. Constitution.” He asked why are we “using ‘principles for governance’ and applying them as literal law from 230 years ago (made by white men exclusively).”

The committee report also said GARM approached the Global Disinformation Index as part of its move “to create a system in which only ‘legitimate news’ received funding, and all advertising revenue was steered away from so-called ‘disinformation sites.’”

The Global Disinformation Index released a list of the “riskiest sites” with the highest “disinformation risk” which included the New York Post, Reason Magazine, RealClearPolitics, The Daily Wire, The Blaze, The American Conservative, The Federalist and The American Spectator.

“On the contrary, the list of ‘Least risky sites’ included left-leaning news sources such (as) BuzzFeed News and HuffPost,” said the report.


The report also included discussion of the Hunter Biden laptop story.

“Unilever, through GARM, also expressed issues with Mr. (Elon) Musk exposing the truth about how Twitter, prior to Mr. Musk’s acquisition, censored the Hunter Biden laptop story,” said the report.

The committee said that Unilever could have acted on its own instead of going through GARM.

“The committee will continue its oversight of GARM and the adequacy of existing antitrust laws to determine whether legislative reforms are necessary to address this dangerous, anticompetitive behavior,” concluded the report.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.