Welcome to the Regulatory State: The FCC Internet Takeover

by Crocker on December 22, 2010, 7:01 am

in Law,Media,Politics

Even after 300 members of Congress and the federal courts have said ‘no jurisdiction’, the FCC on a 3-2 vote asserts jurisdiction over the Internet. I’ve read a number of news articles so far, all happily discussing whether this or that provision in the FCC rules are good or bad for particular members of the telecommunications industry.

They’re missing the point. This isn’t about anything but power and its naked exercise. Reject the premise.

John Fund in today’s WSJ traces the origins of the “media reform” movement and its ability with massive leftist funding to (a) manufacture a “crisis” and (b) insinuate their members into the highest levels of the regulatory apparatus.

The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney’s agenda? “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies,” he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. “But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

A year earlier, Mr. McChesney wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review that “any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself.” Mr. McChesney told me in an interview that some of his comments have been “taken out of context.” He acknowledged that he is a socialist and said he was “hesitant to say I’m not a Marxist.”

For a man with such radical views, Mr. McChesney and his Free Press group have had astonishing influence. Mr. Genachowski’s press secretary at the FCC, Jen Howard, used to handle media relations at Free Press. The FCC’s chief diversity officer, Mark Lloyd, co-authored a Free Press report calling for regulation of political talk radio.

Free Press has been funded by a network of liberal foundations that helped the lobby invent the purported problem that net neutrality is supposed to solve. They then fashioned a political strategy similar to the one employed by activists behind the political speech restrictions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill. The methods of that earlier campaign were discussed in 2004 by Sean Treglia, a former program officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, during a talk at the University of Southern California. Far from being the efforts of genuine grass-roots activists, Mr. Treglia noted, the campaign-finance reform lobby was controlled and funded by foundations like Pew.

“The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot,” he told his audience. He noted that “If Congress thought this was a Pew effort, it’d be worthless.”

“Create the impression of a mass movement”, eh? Sounds like a “popular front” operation to me. Particularly when we have guys like Mark Lloyd at the FCC who’ve been openly stating their preference for a Chavez-like regulated media.

Don’t ever get lost in the process, the details or the game itself. Never forget the premise, which is seizure of power and the control that comes with it.

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