Open thread for night owls: Shallow media transform net neutrality struggle into clash of brands

[ Originally published on this site as post ]

John O’Day at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting writes—Net Neutrality Reduced to Mogul vs. Mogul in Corporate Media’s Shallow Coverage

A common refrain in popular news media is that net neutrality is just too boring and esoteric for ordinary people to be interested in. “Oh my god that is the most boring thing I’ve ever seen,” John Oliver (HBO, 6/1/14) once exclaimed after showing his audience a short clip from a government hearing on the subject. “That is even boring by C-SPAN standards.”

Net neutrality is the principle that internet data should be transmitted without discrimination.  Absent net neutrality rules, internet service providers (ISPs) are free to act as gatekeepers, controlling which data users have access to and at what speed.

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Oliver proved himself wrong. His 2014 segment, which explained net neutrality and successfully implored the public to support the FCC’s proposed reclassification of ISPs as “common carriers” under the Telecommunications Act, so that they could be regulated as public utilities, has been viewed over 13 million times on YouTube. 3.7 million people sent comments to the FCC that year.

Clearly, if net neutrality is framed in a context an audience can relate to, they are very interested and get involved; it is not so much a problem of boredom but of understanding the underlying importance, which Oliver illuminated. But he also made another important observation: “What’s being proposed is so egregious, activists and corporations have been forced on the same side.”

As the new FCC under Trump-appointed chair Ajit Pai prepares to roll back the net neutrality rules put in place just two years ago, corporate media appear to have largely sidelined the activist perspective. Instead, they have presented the issue as a simple matter of which corporate brands consumers prefer.

“Amazon, Google in last ditch protest to support Net Neutrality,” proclaimed USA Today (7/10/17). “Google, Amazon Plan Protest Against FCC Plans to Reverse Net Neutrality,” CNBC reported (7/17/17). “Tech Companies Rally on Net Neutrality Day of Action,” CBS (7/12/17) declared. CNN (7/12/17): “Tech Companies Go Big and Small for Net Neutrality Protest.” NBC (7/12/17): “Google and Facebook Join Net Neutrality Day to Protest FCC’s Proposed Rollback.” And on and on.

To be sure, these companies contributed to the “Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality” organized by Fight for the Future, a nonprofit internet advocacy organization, but they were by no means the only participants. The ACLU, Free Press, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the American Library Association and the nonprofit Mozilla Foundation (to name just a few) all reaffirmed their noncommercial commitment to defend net neutrality.

By characterizing the debate over net neutrality as a clash of corporate titans, the press not only alienates readers who don’t have the time to worry about squabbles in the business world, but also misconstrues what is at stake in the struggle for power over one of humankind’s most important inventions of the last millennium. […]

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BLAST FROM THE PAST

At Daily Kos on this date in 2003Blair knew:

The judicial inquiry into the Blair administration’s case for war hit the mother
lode, with evidence Blair knew Iraq was no threat.

In a message that goes to the heart of the government’s case for war, the Downing Street chief of staff, Jonathan Powell, raised serious doubts about the nature of September’s Downing Street dossier on Iraq’s banned weapons.

“We will need to make it clear in launching the document that we do not claim that we have evidence that he is an imminent threat,” Mr Powell wrote on September 17, a week before the document was finally published […]

Downing Street also faced severe embarrassment yesterday when the Hutton inquiry was told the prime minister’s official spokesman in an email had described the government’s battles with the BBC as a “game of chicken.”

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