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Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — the two highest-ranking Republican members on the House Antitrust committee — used their first few minutes during their opening statements at the hearing with Big Tech CEOs Thursday to call out tech companies for unproven allegations of political bias against conservatives.

Why it matters: Previous hearings with tech executives have devolved into partisan bickering over political bias, instead of focusing on serious issues. The hope was that this hearing, conducted by a specialized subcommittee, would be more substantive.

“Big tech is out to get conservatives,” Jordan said at the very beginning of his opening remarks.

  • Jordan then proceeded to get into a heated exchange with the Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.), who tried to move the hearing along after Jordan's rant about political bias.
  • Rep. Sensenbrenner's opening remarks started out tempered, noting that "Being big is not inherently bad.” But he quickly pivoted to issues of bias.
  • "[R]eports that dissenting views, often conservative ones, are targeted or censored is seriously troubling. The power to influence debate carries with it remarkable responsibilities," he said.
  • Rep. Sensenbrenner later uses his first question to wrongly ask Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg why Facebook took action on Donald Trump Jr.’s account. "That happened on Twitter,” Zuckerberg replied.
  • Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), in his first line of questioning, referenced reports that by Google had warned The Federalist, a conservative website, about being demonetized for violating its rules.

Our thought bubble: Tech execs have recently gotten a free pass from being pressed on serious, substantive issues when they go to the Capitol because conservatives are obsessed with unproven allegations of political censorship.

Flashback: When tech executives testified in Congress last year, Senate conservatives did the same thing.

Go deeper

News about news dominates election

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The media and its gatekeepers have managed to make themselves a central story in the 2020 presidential election.

Why it matters: This is especially true on cable news, where mentions of terms like "misinformation" and "disinformation" have skyrocketed in the past few weeks, surpassing mentions of issues voters typically say they care about like "social security," "climate change," and "immigration."

Updated 3 hours ago - World

U.S. airstrike kills senior al-Qaeda leader in Syria, DOD says

A displacement camp near the village of Qah in Syria's northwestern Idlib province. Photo: Ahmad Al-Atrash/AFP via Getty Images

A U.S. airstrike in northwest Syria on Friday killed senior al-Qaeda leader Abdul Hamid al-Matar, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

Why it matters: Syria serves as a "safe haven" for the extremist group to plan external operations, according to U.S. Army Maj. John Rigsbee.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Giuliani associate Lev Parnas convicted of campaign finance crimes

Lev Parnas, a former associate of then-President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida businessman Lev Parnas was convicted Friday on charges of conspiracy to make foreign contributions to political campaigns, according to multiple outlets.

Why it matters: Prosecutors said Parnas, then an associate of former President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, funneled over $150,000 from a Russian businessman into U.S. campaigns as part of an effort to land licenses in the U.S.'s legal cannabis industry.