Koch Brothers Take Their Campaign To Kill Net Neutrality To Fox News

Last month the corporate-friendly majority on the Supreme Court struck down FCC rules that required Internet service providers (ISP) to treat all content equally. Known as “Network Neutrality,” these rules prevent companies like AT&T from providing fast service for Internet sites it favors, while impeding content from those it does not. Without Net Neutrality, you might try to access Dominoes Pizza, but your ISP could refuse that request and direct you to Papa John’s, who paid them to do so. Or they could simply slow down the connection to Dominoes so that you would give up and try some other pizzeria.

Net Neutrality insures that you are able to access any site on the Internet that you want without interference from your provider. Unfortunately, the big ISPs (i.e. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, etc.) oppose that freedom. They want to control your access and make either you, or the destination sites, pay them to open the highway to free-flowing traffic. Theoretically, they could just as easily obstruct your access to content they find objectionable politically, morally, or economically (i.e. their competitors).

Fox Nation

Read the acclaimed ebook Fox Nation vs. Reality for more brazen Fox lies.

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, Democrats in Congress drafted the “Open Internet Preservation Act of 2014,” with the stated goal of…

“…restor[ing]the Open Internet Rules struck down by the D.C. Circuit in January 2014 prohibiting broadband Internet service providers from engaging in discriminatory behavior or blocking content altogether.”

Within hours the conservative opposition to the bill cranked up on behalf of the corporations that bankroll them. Prominent among them was the Koch brothers who have long been aggressive opponents of an open Internet. Their fake news wire service, Watchdog.org, quickly published an article that thoroughly mischaracterized the facts and featured a deceitful headline saying “Democratic federal lawmakers really want the FCC to regulate Internet.”

By casting this as an issue of regulation, the Koch brothers seek to marshal support for their anti-Internet agenda. To the extent that this bill can be portrayed as regulation, it is a regulation that guarantees more freedom for all users of the Internet. Granted, there is somewhat less freedom for ISPs to gouge consumers and inhibit free speech. Despite the fact that the legislation was drafted by Democrats, the only member of Congress that the article quoted was arch-rightist Marsha Blackburn who said…

“It’s more than ironic that the same Administration that can’t figure out how to make Healthcare.Gov work now thinks that regulating the Internet like China and Russia will make things better for American consumers.”

Clearly Blackburn doesn’t understand either Net Neutrality or the nature of Russian and Chinese censorship. It is Net Neutrality that actually makes the Internet more open, and the lack of it that permits government and corporate interference. But she is just another Republican who is doing the bidding of her well-heeled corporate donors.

True to form, Fox News picked up the story from Watchdog and ran it on their lie-riddled, community website Fox Nation with the headline “Dems Pushing FCC To Regulate Internet.” Fox News regularly publishes articles from the fake Koch brothers wire service that always seem to advance the interests of wealthy industrialists like the Kochs. It’s one of the perks of being rich enough to create your own “news” distribution outlet that can feed propaganda to friendly publishers like Fox.

In this case, Fox News is doing a disservice to their audience by failing to disclose the partisan interests of their source. But more seriously, they are feeding them disinformation about net neutrality that could result in a severe reduction in the freedom that has always been a part of the open Internet if Fox and the Kochs are successful.

Fight The FCC’s Phony Net Neutrality Plan

One of the most promising signs of the early Obama administration was the appointment of Julius Genachowski to chair the FCC. There was significant hope that the days of coddling Big Media and permitting more consolidation and concentration of corporate influence was about to end. However, it is now turning into one of the most disappointing appointments as Genachowski appears to be caving on Network Neutrality, one of the most important free speech issues of this decade.

The New York Times is reporting that “Genachowski has decided not to use the commission’s telephone regulatory powers to govern broadband Internet service.” He also seems to be prepared to allow Internet service providers to engage in “paid prioritization,” which could lead to favoritism on the part of the ISPs and discrimination against smaller, independent web enterprises.

This is not exactly the sort of plan that was promised by candidate Obama in 2008. It charts a course that smothers efforts to increase broadband access while giving more control of the Internet to monopoly-minded corporations. Josh Silver of FreePress.net summarizes the ill-effects of this proposal as “a shiny jewel for companies like AT&T and Comcast.”

Net Neutrality has been a target of right-wing disinformation for several years. They wrongly portray it as anything from a new Fairness Doctrine to something out of Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Russia. That is how obsessed they are with defeating a proposal whose actual purpose is to protect a free and open Internet. That’s how obsessed they are with advancing the interests of their wealthy benefactors at the expense of the American people.

This administration has been notably weak-kneed when it comes to anything remotely controversial. They demonstrated this tendency to bail with Van Jones, Shirley Sherrod, the Public Option in the health care debate, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and presently the matter of extending tax cuts to the wealthy. It seems that any opposition to common sense progressive proposals is met with complete surrender. We can’t let liars like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh drive the debate. And we can’t let the White House cave in to pressure from factions that represent greed and corporate power.

You can fight back by signing this petition from Bold Progressives to urge the FCC to protect free speech online by supporting Net Neutrality. And here’s another from Credo Action. Or you can use this form to contact the FCC directly and submit your comments. But you only have a couple of weeks, so act soon. You will surely regret it if you don’t and you later find that you can’t access some of your favorite web sites because they were blocked by ISPs because they couldn’t pay the toll.