I thought that “climate change” was a unique issue in our time where the Left, including the formerly mainstream media, has succeeded to convince the public that black is white and the moon is made of cheese. No, it isn’t. So-called “net neutrality” is another one. Both issues are built upon scientific or technical matters, serving as an obstacle for public understanding.
If you browsed the web on July 12th, you probably noticed the “Battle for the Net” or the “Net Neutrality Day of Action.” You might have gotten the impression that net neutrality or open Internet access has been threatened by Trump’s administration. Do not worry, those are lies. On the contrary, in 2015 the Obama administration declared itself the guardian of public access to the Internet under the guise of “net neutrality.” Don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard that – most TV networks were busy reporting fake news. This evil scheme, like many others, was doomed on November 8, 2016. Now those behind that attempt are trying to exploit this failure to incite hatred and re-invigorate “the resistance,” with the help of many Internet giants.
Net Neutrality is the good principle that a provider of information access service, a device, or a platform must be neutral regarding the content accessed or transmitted by its service, device, or platform. In particular, Internet Service Providers must not discriminate between net traffic based on the content or originating website. Also, they must not give preferential treatment to their own services, such as voice over IP, relative to their competitors. The principle of Net Neutrality was accepted and applied by the George W. Bush administration toward broadband ISPs.
But when Obama was elected in 2008, he appointed his classmate and fundraiser Julius Genachowski as Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman. Under the pretext of net neutrality, FCC crafted multiple regulations that made broadband ISPs almost unable to manage their own networks, and put their whole operations in the legal grey area. Not incidentally, the robust growth in broadband providers’ competition that preceded Obama election stopped and many new broadband technologies (like WiMAX) became buried. For the first time in the history, Internet access prices started to rise! But that was only a prelude to the real action.
“Freedom is Slavery”: FCC puts the Internet under Title II of the Communication Act of 1934
In March 2015, Obama’s FCC under Chairman Tom Wheeler issued an order (FCC-15-24) that reclassified the Internet as a public utility, subject to government control under Title II of the Communication Act of 1930’s. In Orwellian fashion, the FCC called FCC-15-24 an “Open Internet Order” (1). In an unprecedented power grab, the FCC vested into itself total control over the whole Internet backbone, all Internet access (other than obsolete dial up) by all consumers, and all broadband and mobile ISPs. The order sprawls on more than 300 pages, never mentions “net neutrality” (except in the footnotes), but frequently references the Free Press and other leftist groups and foundations. Free Press was among the most active lobbyists for that order. The Order was written in secret following intense lobbying by the mentioned Free Press, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future et al. Following are quotes from the dissenting opinions of two Republican Commissioners (emphasis in quotes is mine throughout the article):
Commissioner Ajit Pai (2):
“The Internet has become a powerful force for freedom, both at home and abroad. So it is sad to witness the FCC’s unprecedented attempt to replace that freedom with government control. It shouldn’t be this way. For twenty years, there’s been a bipartisan consensus in favor of a free and open Internet.”
“But today, the FCC abandons those policies. … It seizes unilateral authority to regulate Internet conduct … So why is the FCC changing course? Why is the FCC turning its back on Internet freedom? … We are flip-flopping for one reason and one reason alone. President Obama told us to do so.”
“The Commission’s decision to adopt President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.”
“While the media and the public were focusing on events at the FCC, the real action was occurring behind closed doors at the White House. Of course, a few insiders were clued in about what was transpiring. Just listen to what a leader for the group Fight for the Future had to say: ‘We’ve been hearing for weeks from our allies in DC that the only thing that could stop FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler from moving ahead with his sham proposal to gut net neutrality was if we could get the President to step in. So we did everything in our power to make that happen. We took the gloves off and played hard, and now we get to celebrate a sweet victory.’ What the press has called the ‘parallel FCC’ at the White House opened its doors to a plethora of special-interest activists: Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, Free Press, and Public Knowledge, just to name a few. Indeed, even before activists were blocking Chairman Wheeler’s driveway late last year, some of them had met with White House officials. But what about the rest of the American people? They certainly couldn’t get White House meetings. They were shut out of the process. They were being played for fools.”
“It [the FCC order] differs so dramatically [from the public draft] that even net neutrality advocates frantically rushed in recent days to make last-minute filings registering their concerns that the FCC might be going too far. Yet the American people to this day have not been allowed to see President Obama’s plan. It has remained secret.”
Commissioner Michael O’Rielly (3):
“Today a majority of the Commission attempts to usurp the authority of Congress by re-writing the Communications Act to suit its own ‘values’ and political ends.”
“Net neutrality is now the pretext for deploying Title II to a far greater extent than anyone could have imagined just months ago. And that is the reality that the Commission tried to hide by keeping the draft from the public and releasing a carefully worded ‘fact’ sheet in its place.”
“Hardly anyone at the time thought that the Commission would seriously consider applying Title II. And truth be told, the Commission did not give it much thought either, as is evident from the NPRM. Outside parties warned the Commission to take a few months to seek further comment, but the Commission was not operating on its own timetable because it has to be responsive to the political winds and views of the perpetually outraged.”
This is it. The net neutrality alarm is a very small subject. Free Press is a mockery of freedom of press just like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is a mockery of democracy and people. Free Press is a revolutionary Communist group advancing “media reform” as a part of a broader agenda to destroy our society. In the words of Free Press founder McChesney written in the Monthly Review, 2008: “any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist political economy.” (4) Obama appointed to FCC at least two Free Press Board members. Another one, notorious Van Jones, became a “green jobs czar.” The FCC-15-24 order was a stepping stone in its strategy. Quite an unexpected turn for “net neutrality,” is it not? (Obama’s FCC also threatened on-air broadcasters, but it is out of the scope of this topic. See Remarks & Quotes). These are the same groups that lead the current “battle for the net”. www.BattleForTheNet.com is their main website. Notice the similarity to climate alarmism – there is no debate. The debate is over and the battle is on. These extremist groups are joined by the Left coast Internet giants.
Just like climate alarmists, Free Press et al. created a bogeyman and declared it the enemy in the battle. Only this time, it’s not “fossil fuels,” but broadband ISPs and cable companies, especially AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Verizon. But these companies support net neutrality! See the AT&T statement AT&T Supports an Open Internet. The Left has recognized a unique advantage in fighting a bogeyman – the bogeyman neither fights back nor argues. Thus, they win every debate! All the time, the formerly mainstream media obediently repeats the talking points of the hard Left. Just like in the climate debate, some conservatives and libertarians followed their instincts (i.e., understood that the whole agenda is a leftist power grab), but mistook the strawman argument for the real thing, and started defending it.
All Hell Breaks Loose
After the elections, Republicans gained majority in FCC and Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai the FCC Chairman. Rather than using that Obama legacy to suppress its foes, as Obama administration intended, the Trump administration decided to repeal FCC-15-24. And “the resistance” branch, headed by Free Press et al. and supported by the Left Coast multi billionaires, raised hell under the false cover of net neutrality.
It’s hard to believe that they really want that FCC order in place. Rather, they use it as an opportunity to defame the Trump administration, and to incite hatred against Republican lawmakers and the people that elected them. For the Left, this agenda has the added bonus of attracting demographics that are receptive to other Leftist agendas.
The support and participation that the Free Press and its accomplices receive from the Internet giants is amazing. They act against their obvious economic interest – the continuous private investment in the Internet infrastructure, impossible under the FCC-15-24 order. There is a large overlap between this group and The Dirty 129 that resisted Trump’s January travel ban in collusion with groups that used force in international airports. Among the most active “battle” participants who placed their names and trademarks alongside radical groups and the Big Porn are: Amazon (AMZN), Netflix (NFLX), Yelp (YELP), Vimeo (a division of IAC), Internet Association, Reddit, Dropbox, Pinterest, Tumblr, PLOS (the nonprofit Public Library of Science), AirBnB, Foursquare, and Y-Combinator. When contacted for comments, Reddit and Yelp confirmed their participation, while the rest have not replied to the email. The Internet Association has Google (GOOG), Twitter (TWTR), Facebook (FB), and other well-known Internet companies among its members.
Remarks and Quotes
The following brief notes and quotes are not a result of a research, but simply a few things that caught my eye. Much of the information comes from 2011 book by Klein, Aaron. Red Army: The Radical Network That Must Be Defeated to Save America. I have no doubt that further investigation into these matters would be extremely fruitful.
Free Press is against free press. Don’t be fooled by its name. Leftist groups routinely take good-sounding names that are opposite to their actual aims. Free Press was co-founded in 2003 by Robert McChesney, then editor of the Marxist Monthly Review. Monthly Review is Marxist-Leninist communist revolutionary journal, applauding Bolshevik revolution of 1917 and the following Communist crimes (5). Free Press advocated governmental ownership of the press, and has urged the FCC to investigate talk radio and cable news for what it called “hate speech.” (See Klein, Aaron. Red Army: The Radical Network That Must Be Defeated to Save America, p. 215) Multiple other Free Press employees held influential positions in Obama’s administration, which threatened and harassed on-air broadcasters.
Michael J. Copps served in the FCC over 2001-2011 as a commissioner and a Chairman. He has been on the Board of Free Press since at least 2012 (6). From Klein, Aaron. Red Army: The Radical Network That Must Be Defeated to Save America:
“In early December 2010, Michael J. Copps, one of the five commissioners on the FCC, came up with a ‘new’ television and radio licensing plan that is ripped from the pages of a 1997 European Union treaty agreement. Yet, once again, the creativity demonstrated by progressives in finding new and radical approaches to force diversity in broadcast media upon the unaware public is boundless.”
“Washington Times associate editor Peter Suderman wrote in May 2010 at Reason.com that Copps, who has ‘pushed to involve the FCC in everything from journalism to satellite TV service’ and ‘been the Commission’s chief proponent of strong net neutrality regulation, wants an FCC with few or no limits on its power.’”
“Copps is quoted as saying, ‘I’m not trying to establish a national nanny here, but we only have to send one case to [license] hearings and the message would go forth to broadcasters all over the U.S. that this is a new era. Right now, [broadcasters] not only don’t fear us, they don’t respect us, either.’” – that was in 2010. I think that since that time Obama’s administration made broadcasters fear themselves, this might have been a cause for the conversion of the mainstream media into the fakestream media.
“In his December 2, 2010, speech, ‘Getting Media Right: A Call to Action,’ at the Columbia University School of Journalism in New York, Copps proposed replacing the current licensing process for television and radio stations with a public value test. Copps said the test ‘would get us back to the original licensing bargain between broadcasters and the people: in return for free use of airwaves that belong exclusively to the people, licensees agree to serve the public interest as good stewards of a precious national resource.’” – reasoning which gives ground to climate alarmism. Let me complete his idea as applicable in the climate debate: “air belongs exclusively to people, and in exchange to the privilege of exhaling carbon dioxide into the air, citizens agree to serve public interest, as told by EPA and IPCC.”
“Copps proposed the FCC ‘should “determine the extent of its current authority” to compel stations to disclose who pays for anonymous political ads.’ Copps suggests that if the FCC should ‘lack the tools we need to compel disclosure,’ it would ‘go ask for them.’ Copps does not say whom the FCC should ask.”
“Under the public value test rules, Copps also wants to increase the frequency for television and radio station licensing. Instead of every eight years, licensees would have to apply every four years. We could find no precedent in the United States for a public value test, or the use of the phrase before December 2, 2010, by Copps.”
Mark Lloyd is a Director of the New America Foundation’s Media Policy Initiative (7). The Chairman of the New America Foundation is Eric Schmidt of Google. [link to suppression article.] From 2009–2012, he was the FCC associate general counsel and chief diversity officer. Lloyd participated in Free Press conferences together with Michael Copps. From Klein, Aaron. Red Army: The Radical Network That Must Be Defeated to Save America:
“Case in point is President Obama’s ‘Diversity Czar’ at the Federal Communications Commission, who was officially designated the FCC’s associate general counsel and chief diversity officer in July 2009. Mark Lloyd is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. At CAP, Lloyd ‘focus[es] on communications policy issues, including universal service, advanced telecommunications deployment, media concentration and diversity.’ Lloyd is also a consultant to Soros’s Open Society Institute. In 2007 Lloyd wrote an article for CAP called ‘Forget the Fairness Doctrine,’ in which he instructed liberals to file complaints with the FCC against conservative radio stations. ‘What [his article] lays out is a battle plan to use the FCC to threaten stations’ licenses with whom they do not agree politically,’ said Seton Motley, director of communications at the Media Research Center, in an August 14, 2009, interview on the Glenn Beck Show. ‘And now he’s at the FCC waiting to take their calls. This is not about serving the local interest, it’s about political opposition,’ Motley said.”
“Lloyd says he is not interested in reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, an FCC decree that at one time required broadcast stations to demonstrate ‘balance’ to the FCC in the presentation of public issues. … Instead of pushing to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, Lloyd calls for ‘equal opportunity employment practices,’ ‘local engagement,’ and ‘license challenges’ to ‘rectify’ that ‘perceived imbalance,’ Fox reported. According to Lloyd, there is ‘nothing in there about the Fairness Doctrine.’ … Lloyd wrote: ‘The other part of our proposal that gets the “dittoheads” upset is our suggestion that the commercial radio station owners either play by the rules or pay. In other words, if they don’t want to be subject to local criticism of how they are meeting their license obligations, they should pay to support public broadcasters who will operate on behalf of the local community.’”
“Additionally, Lloyd writes that he did not want only to ‘redistribute private profits’ but also to ‘regulate much of the programming on these stations to make sure they focus on “diverse views” and government activities.’ Lloyd contends that large corporate broadcasting networks have ‘driven liberals off of radio’ based on a belief that ‘diversity ownership will reflect in diversity programming.’”
This article by Lloyd is still live. See https://archive.is/L6PrW.
To be continued.
Disclosure: I hold short positions in GOOG, AMZN, and FB.
Thanks to H.J. for collaborating on this article.