The GOP's Blisteringly Hypocritical Road From Whining About Net Neutrality To Supporting Trump's Idiotic Attack On Social Media
from the you-have-zero-credibility-whatsoever dept
Mike has already highlighted FCC boss Ajit Pai’s rank hypocrisy in his support of Trump’s brain fart of an executive order targeting social media. This is, after all, a guy that crowed for literally the better part of the last decade about how some modest net neutrality rules (read: some basic consumer protections aimed at policing widely disliked telecom monopolies) was “government run amok” and a “government takeover of the internet.” Now, as Trump attempts to bully the FCC into policing social media giants it has no authority over, a decade worth of purported principles are somehow, mysteriously absent.
Of course this grotesque, comical hypocrisy isn’t reserved to Ajit Pai.
Back in 2014, before the former FCC passed net neutrality rules, the Obama White House expressed some basic support for net neutrality (and reclassifying ISPs as common carriers under the Communications Act to ensure the FCC could enforce the rules). This wasn’t anything nefarious or even unordinary. President George W. Bush urged FCC Chairman Michael Powell to vote on deregulating media ownership. Bill Clinton wrote a public letter to Chairman Reed Hundt to ban hard liquor advertising on television. Ronald Reagan urged Chairman Mark Fowler to drop his proposal to rescind the Financial Interest and Syndication Rules governing TV networks.
We’ve had plenty of criticisms of Obama era policy. But Obama’s support of net neutrality was legal, ordinary, and had the broad support of countless experts and the majority of U.S. consumers. That didn’t matter to the modern GOP. In its now well-established bad faith style, the party (with AT&T and Comcast’s covert help) immediately began circulating the talking point that Obama’s support of net neutrality had broken some nonexistent law, and was, as countless news outlets parroted at the time, an effort to illegally “bully” the FCC into passing what were, despite a lot of pearl clutching, some fairly basic consumer protections:
“Just as Obama used executive actions in an unprecedented fashion on immigration, so too has he now set a precedent by bullying an independent regulatory body into following political orders.”
This idea that Obama had broken the law or was “bullying” the FCC by expressing support for a very popular policy position would soon be utterly everywhere. An endless sea of GOP pundits could be found writing op-eds about how the Obama White House had broken the law by simply wanting the FCC to protect consumers from telecom monopolies. That Obama was strong-arming the FCC would soon become a gospel narrative. And the rhetoric was even supported by a certain former reality TV star and failed steak salesman of note:
Obama?s attack on the internet is another top down power grab. Net neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine. Will target conservative media.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 12, 2014
That was, of course, all bullshit pushed by telecom monopolies that simply didn’t want to face anything even resembling accountability for decades of anti-competitive behavior. But the narrative that Obama had somehow broken the law was also a favored talking of Ajit Pai, who also, repeatedly, tried to insist that Obama’s totally legal support of a policy widely supported by the vast majority of experts and real fucking human beings was somehow a nefarious, illegal government power grab:
“On November 10, President Obama asked the FCC to implement his plan for regulating the Internet, one that favors government regulation over marketplace competition. As has been widely reported in the press, the FCC has been scrambling ever since to figure out a way to do just that. The courts will ultimately decide this Order?s fate. And I doubt they will countenance this unlawful power grab. Litigants are already lawyering up to seek judicial review of these new rules. Given the Order?s many glaring legal flaws, they will have plenty of fodder.”
Fast forward to 2020. Net neutrality (and FCC authority over telecom in general) is largely dead thanks to AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon lobbyists and an FCC willing to ignore both objective data and sleazy efforts to manipulate the public record. And the same GOP folks who threw a monumental hissy fit about Obama’s “illegal takeover of the internet” are dead silent as a corrupt, criminal buffoon tries to bully the FCC into shoehorning an incoherent brain fart into genuine, real-world policy that ignores the Constitution, common sense, and widespread concern from an absolute chorus of policy experts.
The same folks who repeatedly claimed that natural telecom monopolies shouldn’t be treated as a common carrier, have pivoted 180 to claim that non-dominant social media platforms like Twitter should be. The same folks who spent years insisting the FCC had no right or authority over the parts of the internet it actually had authority over now insist the FCC must regulate the parts it has no authority over. The same folks who whined incessantly about the perils of the Fairness Doctrine now mindlessly support something arguably worse.
All to keep social media giants from policing toxic political disinformation to protect GOP power, now highly reliant on online disinformation to gloss over what are usually, much like the net neutrality repeal, largely unpopular policies.
Net neutrality was, we were told, government utterly run amok. It was, we were told, the very worst example of government out of control. Yet here we have a corrupt and unqualified president genuinely bullying the FCC to support the most idiotic power play imaginable, and the lion’s share of the GOP sits nodding in bobble-headed support. Worse, when Commissioner Mike O’Rielly made some incredibly tame statements pointing out Trump’s EO might not be enforceable, he was fired, soon to be replaced by someone more willing to kiss Trump’s ass. Largely to crickets by the GOP.
There’s Luddite politicians engaged in inconsistent policy, and then there’s what the modern GOP has become: a bad faith dog and pony show, heavily reliant on disinformation, lodged somewhere in the telecom sector, Rupert Murdoch, and Oracle’s lower colon, using a stunning array of disinformation, bogus data, ever-shifting talking points, and complete bullshit to justify corruption and feckless fealty to an idiot king. When the bill comes due for the GOP’s blistering hypocrisy and bad faith bullshit (and sooner or later it will come due), it’s going to be incredibly well earned.