Net Neutrality

Media Matters Misleads About Net Neutrality

The Media Matters habit of misleading anybody about just about anything or anyone was Media Matter’s way to kick off the Thanksgiving holiday. No surprise there.

This time around the topic was “net neutrality”  – and no sooner did the Trump-appointed chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, finish his appearance discussing the issue on Fox and Friends on November 22nd then Media Matters was racing to mislead about the issue.

Here’s the Media Matters description of Pai’s appearance: 

“During a November 22 interview with Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy allowed Pai to dubiously defend his plan to repeal net neutrality standards that were implemented in 2015 as a win for “the internet economy in America” and for nearly 300 million internet users in the United States. Doocy presented his guest with easy questions, which Pai quickly deflected with talking points claiming that his move to gut net neutrality was merely a return to the same “free and open internet” expected by consumers “before these regulations started.”

But Pai’s move to end net neutrality, which classified high speed internet as a public utility, is widely viewed as a win for the telecommunications giants. It is also a big win for conservative media, including Fox News, which vilified net neutrality during the Obama administration.

Internet advocates warn that service providers may soon charge extra to unlock faster access to popular websites and online content, as is already the case in some countries, but Pai brushed off those concerns as “a false fear” while passing responsibility for regulating these predatory business practices to the Federal Trade Commission.”

See how the game of misleading is played? Ending the Obama move to get government control of the Internet is now presented as a “move to gut net neutrality”. Internet providers “may soon charge extra to unlock faster access to popular websites and online content..”

“If it’s OK to regulate the Internet – what about government regulation of…the New York Times? Or CNN?”

If ever there were reason to draw on the Internet and computer acumen of Rush Limbaugh, this would be a good moment. Here is Rush answering the deceptiveness of the argument Media Matters describes as being put forth by anonymous “Internet advocates.” 

“The pro-net neutrality people have come up to analogies to try to help people understand what they think they’re trying to propose. And they use Federal Express and Amazon as their illustration. And they say FedEx delivers Amazon’s packages, and they’re all treated the same. No package gets any preferential treatment. FedEx gets the packages, they deliver them.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Whether you’re talking about Amazon or Shmazon, you can choose your delivery speed, you can choose how many days, weeks, you can choose the kind of delivery you want, do you want ground, do you care if it doesn’t take a month, do you want it tomorrow, do you want it in two days. All of that depends on how much you are willing to pay.

And the providers of both retail products and those who deliver them will accept any form of payment based on the services they offer to give you that package when you want it. If you want to pay the least, then you can buy FedEx ground or UPS ground or whatever and have it delivered in three weeks. If you want to pay, you can have it delivered the next day. If you want to pay a little less than that, you can have it arrive in two days.”

Think of that for a moment. Such a small point – the details of how much providers charge – has been deliberately misrepresented. Disaster will ensue, Media Matters is warning, if service providers are allowed to “charge extra to unlock faster access to popular websites and online content.”  

FCC Chairman Ajit Paiajit
FCC Chairman Ajit Paiajit

This is, as Rush Limbaugh points out, a regular feature of American life. If a FedEx customer wants faster delivery of a package  – they pay for it. How many millions of Americans have used FedEx over the years and made the decision to use ground or air transportation? Or next day delivery or several days later delivery? It happens all the time. Do the Media Matters monitors want to read the New York Times online? At a certain point they have to pay for the privilege. In fact, Media Matters has headlined this story on its site: 

The New York Times’ Nazi sympathizer flop

The subject matter is irrelevant. In this instance what is relevant is that in order to read that story the reader has to pay. A trip to the New York Times subscription page here and one reads that there was a Black Friday sale that momentarily reduced a basic digital subscription from $16 to $8 a month. Interested in an “All Access” account? That bargain dropped a $27 fee to $8 a month. Home delivery of the physical paper? That dropped from a low of $9.50 to $4.50. 

And yet there is Media Matters deliberately trying to make Americans believe that the same principle is somehow strange when applied to Internet service providers because they should be regulated as if a public utility. One can only wonder how much the Media Matters budget is spent on websites like the Times or the Washington Postthat charge for viewing?

All of which raises an unexpected question the wizards of smart at Media Matters seem not to have anticipated. If it’s OK to regulate the Internet – what about government regulation of…the New York Times? Or CNN

Or Media Matters?