FCC Too Afraid To Go On Record To Truly Support Trump's Dumb Attack On Social Media
from the not-the-courageous-type dept
We’ve already discussed at length how the FCC’s support of Trump’s dumb attack on social media and Section 230 is some of the most blistering hypocrisy we’ve ever seen (and we’ve seen a lot). This was, you’ll recall, an agency that whined like a toddler for five straight years about how some fairly modest rules holding telecom monopolies accountable was somehow “government run amok,” yet has now pivoted gracelessly into supporting Trump’s dumb, likely unconstitutional effort to have the FCC police social media — despite having little to no authority to actually do so.
It’s been amusing to watch folks like FCC boss Ajit Pai sheepishly avoid really addressing that his colleague Mike O’Rielly was fired by Trump simply for very timidly pointing this out. It’s also been amusing to watch Pai, who I guarantee knows that Trump’s EO is an idiotic mess, pretend that’s not the case as he pushes the NTIA request to “re-examine Section 230” through the bureaucratic grist mill just to generate some bad faith election headlines and please “dear leader.”
That’s supported by this recent Washington Post article that makes it clear top FCC brass knows this idea is garbage but is moving forward anyway because we wouldn’t want to make the idiot king mad:
“Only a year ago, top FCC aides had told the Trump administration privately that they did not want to pursue regulation around online speech, according to four people with direct knowledge of the talks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential proceedings. The comments came as part of a series of conversations convened by the White House designed to explore potential regulation targeting Silicon Valley.
Pai himself had previously expressed opposition to new FCC regulation targeting social media sites. On Thursday, however, he set the agency on a path toward issuing new rules around Section 230, citing concerns shared by ?all three branches of government? about the tech giants? behavior.”
It’s also amusing to watch Pai refuse to publicly comment on Trump’s dumb idea outside of a scripted press release. But then turn around and have Pai (or Carr’s) office feed unattributed nonsense to the Post about how this agency isn’t being ravenously hypocritical:
“The FCC declined to comment. An agency official, speaking only on the condition of anonymity, stressed there had been no contact between the White House and the commission before Pai?s announcement. The official said that Pai?s position had remained consistent over time, since the action he is eyeing on Section 230 is not the same as direct regulation of online speech.”
That bit about how there had “been no contact” between the FCC and White House is very likely false, but is included because (you might recall) Pai and friends made a monumental stink about how Obama’s support for net neutrality was somehow an “illegal” attempt to pressure the FCC. It wasn’t, and here you have the Trump administration doing precisely what they previously whined about.
You’re to apparently pretend this isn’t all a bad faith dog and pony show designed to put false claims of “Conservative censorship” in the headlines during an election, bully companies that just happen to be long-time adversaries of Trump allies (telecom, Oracle, Rupert Murdoch), and thwart companies that have only recently figured out that while immensely profitable, amplifying hate speech and political disinformation isn’t great for democracies or public welfare. You’re also supposed to pretend Ajit Pai isn’t an utterly spineless politician more eager to pander to an authoritarian nitwit than do what’s right.