Ted Cruz Calls Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey 'Modern Day Oligarchs with Unlimited Power'

Senator Ted Cruz has called Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey "modern day oligarchs with unlimited power" as he railed against "big tech" this week.

In a fresh attack on the wealthy Facebook and Twitter bosses, the Texas Republican complained about the platforms' efforts to limit the spread of unverified New York Post stories about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, which suggested ties between the former U.S. vice president and a Ukrainian gas company called Burisma.

Last week, Twitter took measures to stop the story from circulating, blocking links to the article from being shared among users and locking the newspaper's account until it deleted posts deemed to have violated policy. At the same time, Facebook decided to reduce distribution of the article until a third-party fact check was conducted.

The moves were met with instant condemnation from Republican politicians, who said Zuckerberg and Dorsey had "suppressed" the story and threatened to issue subpoenas forcing the tech chiefs be dragged before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Spearheading those calls were committee member Cruz (R-TX) and committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C). Cruz accused the companies of "actively interfering" in the 2020 presidential election and said he wanted to find out "what the hell is going on."

Sen. Cruz continued to voice his opposition to the billionaire CEOs of the two tech firms this week, speaking in a press call yesterday with Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, a conservative group highlighting alleged liberal media bias.

"Big tech has taken the astonishing view that it has unlimited power to censor the media to prevent the American people from learning about these stories and to punish anyone who dares discuss facts that are inconvenient to the political narrative big tech favors," Cruz said, using a term that refers to the large tech and social media companies operating in the U.S., including Facebook, Twitter, Google and Amazon.

"In any world, handling control of our democracy, handling control of free speech to a handful of Silicon Valley billionaires—modern day oligarchs with unlimited power and a brazen willingness to use that power—would pose profound dangers," he added.

During his interview, the Republican politician said it was "flabbergasting" that the U.S. media was willing to "seed" power to the big tech firms by not criticizing Biden.

'Threat to democracy'

He pitched the suppression as being a threat to press freedom, saying that if the Post could be censored then so too could the New York Times, Politico or Fox News.

Referencing the dominant social media firms, Cruz added: "They can silence anyone and everyone who dares report on any facts, any news, inconsistent with the desires of the big tech billionaires... this poses the single greatest threat to free speech in America today. It poses the single greatest threat to democracy in America today."

On Monday this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee delayed plans to vote on issuing the subpoenas on Zuckerberg and Dorsey after some Republicans on the panel had "expressed reservation about the maneuver," Politico first reported.

Sen. Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) takes questions from reporters at the Senate subway during a recess in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in Washington, DC., on January 29, 2020. Samuel Corum/Getty

In a release the same day, the committee said it would consider authorizing subpoenas to compel the two CEO testimonies during a session tomorrow (October 22) that is also expected to green light the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

It said in a statement: "Staff continues to negotiate with both Twitter and Facebook to allow for voluntary testimony. If an agreement for voluntary testimony is not reached, the committee will vote on authorizing the subpoenas at a date to be determined."

Speaking with Bozell this week, Cruz could not confirm a specific date for the testimonies but expected it would take place some time prior to the incoming presidential election on November 3.

"I don't have an exact date to announce, but my expectation is we hear testimony from both of them before the election [as] this level of censorship and election interference is dramatically greater than big tech has ever attempted," the U.S. senator said.