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House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (C) listens behind Majority Whip Steve Scalise (L) as Speaker Paul Ryan (R) speaks at a during a news conference. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — a fixture of the Washington establishment — has been given prime real estate on the most anti-establishment website in conservative media, Breitbart, pushing an issue that has fired up the far-right: Big Tech's online censorship of conservatives.

Between the lines: McCarthy’s people say they’re simply highlighting an issue that has negatively impacted conservatives, but political operatives in Washington are viewing every move he makes through the lens of the behind-the-scenes jostling to replace Paul Ryan as Speaker. McCarthy needs the votes of the ultra-conservative House Freedom Caucus to become Speaker, and stories like this only help his cause on the hard right.

"This is probably the biggest issue to conservatives across the country that no one in the Beltway talks about. This issue actually rivals immigration as the issue at the forefront of the minds of conservatives.”
— A senior figure in the conservative movement to Axios

What they're saying: McCarthy's op-ed, in which he rails against Silicon Valley's role in campaign to "stigmatize and silence Americans who do not believe the latest in liberal ideology," was prompted by a recent Google search of the California GOP, his district, in the days before the California primary. The first thing that popped up was a box from Wikipedia, and "Nazism" was listed prominently in the ideology category.

  • "This piece supplements the message McCarthy has delivered over the past several weeks and the concerns conservatives have raised for some time," McCarthy's communications director, Matt Sparks, tells Axios. "And as the Majority Leader, highest ranking California Republican, and believer in technological advances having the power to do good, McCarthy is uniquely prepared to effectuate change to bring more openness, transparency, and trust to these platforms."

The reaction: Breitbart hyped the op-ed, making it the splash on its homepage with the sell line: “House Majority Leader calls out masters of the universe.”

  • Donald Trump Jr. tweeted the article, saying "Glad someone is finally pushing back!"
  • Brad Parscale, President Trump's 2020 campaign manager, retweeted McCarthy's link.
  • One America News Correspondent Jack Posobiec — a controversial online figure who has a large following on the right — also shared the article.

Worth noting: House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who’s also in the running to replace Ryan, recently talked about the issue in a speech at a Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, which Breitbart covered with the headline "Steve Scalise Slams Big Tech Bias at Road to Majority Conference."

Go deeper: Conservative leaders demand Big Tech end "censorship"

Editor's note: An earlier version of this piece mistakenly referred to the Breitbart article on Steve Scalise as an op-ed.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Health

Texas to end all coronavirus restrictions

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaking at the White House in December 2020. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Texas will end its coronavirus restrictions next week with an upcoming executive order, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced Tuesday during a press conference in Lubbock.

Why it matters: After Abbott signs the new order, which rescinds previous orders, all businesses can open to 100% capacity and the statewide mask mandate will be over, though large parts of the state will remain under mask local ordinances.

Senate confirms Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo as commerce secretary

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Photo: David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The Senate voted 84-15 on Tuesday to confirm Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo to lead the Commerce Department.

Why it matters: The agency promotes U.S. industry, oversees the Census Bureau, plays a key role in the government's study of climate change through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and evaluates emerging technology through the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.