Days After FCC Commissioner Mike O'Rielly Suggests Trump's Section 230 Exec Order Is Unconstitutional... His Renomination To The FCC Is Withdrawn

from the petty-shit dept

Earlier today we wrote about how Ajit Pai was pushing ahead with the Commerce Department's silly FCC petition regarding a re-interpretation of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. We noted that it wouldn't actually be that hard to just say that the whole thing is unconstitutional and outside of the FCC's authority (which it is). Some people have pushed back on us saying that if Pai didn't do this, Trump would fire him and promote some Trump stan to push through whatever unconstitutional nonsense is wanted.

Well, now at least there's some evidence to suggest that Trump also views the FCC -- a supposedly "independent" agency -- as his personal speech police. Of the Republican Commissioners, Brendan Carr has been quite vocal in his Trump boot-licking, especially with regards to Section 230. He's been almost gleeful in his pronouncements about how evil "big tech" is for "censoring conservatives," and how much he wants to chip away at Section 230. Pai has been pretty much silent on the issue until the announcement today. But the other Republican Commissioner, Mike O'Rielly, has at least suggested that he recognizes the Trump executive order is garbage. Six weeks ago he said he hadn't done his homework yet, but suggested he didn't think Congress had given the FCC any authority on this matter (he's right).

Just last week, during a speech, he made it pretty clear where he stood on this issue. While first saying he wasn't necessarily referencing the Trump executive order, he said the following:

Today, I would like to address a particularly ominous development in this space. To be clear, the following critique is not in any way directed toward President Trump or those in the White House, who are fully within their rights to call for the review of any federal statute's application, the result of which would be subject to applicable statutory and constitutional guardrails. Rather, I am very troubled by certain opportunists elsewhere who claim to be the First Amendment’s biggest heroes but only come to its defense when convenient and constantly shift its meaning to fit their current political objectives. The inconsistencies and contradictions presented by such false prophets would make James Madison’s head spin, were he alive to witness them.

The First Amendment protects us from limits on speech imposed by the government—not private actors—and we should all reject demands, in the name of the First Amendment, for private actors to curate or publish speech in a certain way. Like it or not, the First Amendment’s protections apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making. I shudder to think of a day in which the Fairness Doctrine could be reincarnated for the Internet, especially at the ironic behest of so-called free speech “defenders.” It is time to stop allowing purveyors of First Amendment gibberish to claim they support more speech, when their actions make clear that they would actually curtail it through government action. These individuals demean and denigrate the values of our Constitution and must be held accountable for their doublespeak and dishonesty. This institution and its members have long been unwavering in defending the First Amendment, and it is the duty of each of us to continue to uphold this precious protection.

To be clear: I agree 100% with that statement, and am glad that O'Rielly was willing to stand up on principle to defend it.

And then, today, it was announced that the White House is pulling his renomination to the FCC. In other words, the White House is being a petty asshole, again, and firing anyone for not being in lockstep with the President's ridiculous unconstitutional whims.

There was some talk last week about how Senator James Inhofe's office was blocking O'Rielly's renomination over a different issue: the approval of L-Band spectrum for use by Ligado (formerly LightSquared). A variety of government organizations had opposed the use of this spectrum, fearing that it might interfere with GPS systems. However, the Ligado deal was unanimously approved by all five commissioners, so it's difficult to see why O'Rielly would be singled out, other than his nomination was up. The Inhofe/Ligado thing feels like a smokescreen for the 230 issue.

The question now is whether or not O'Rielly will serve out his term, or if he'll leave now that his renomination is not being considered. One hopes that he'll at least stick it out long enough to vote down the Petition on 230. Even if he did leave, it's unclear if a new Commissioner would get through any confirmation process prior to the election. Either way, at least it's nice to see one Republican Commissioner willing to stand up to Trump. We've criticized O'Rielly plenty of times in the past, but at least he's not taking the path of Carr (and even Pai) in dealing with this nonsense.

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Filed Under: 5g, donald trump, fcc, free speech, gps, james inhofe, mike o'rielly, networks, renomination, section 230, speech police
Companies: ligado


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Aug 2020 @ 4:23pm

    What strange timing...

    I'm sure it's a complete coincidence that his renomination was pulled almost immediately after he called out the free-speech hypocrites, which just so happens to include Trump, rather than yet more evidence that Trump considers the entire US government as working for him and is so incredibly petty that he will spitefully punish anyone who dares call him out on whatever his latest idiocy is.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 4 Aug 2020 @ 3:54am

      Makes you want to hear Sean Hannity's take on it, doesn't it?

      Always educating to see a practised interpretation of "now how to spin this?". It's almost sad that more often than not the answer is "We'll return to the news after a brief distraction. Or a not so brief distraction. And we'll not actually be returning to the news. It's not like we were there before anyway."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2020 @ 4:21am

        Re: Makes you want to hear Sean Hannity's take on it, doesn't it

        Both sides silliness is always entertaining but I need covfefe before reading such bullshit.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 4 Aug 2020 @ 9:18am

        Re: Makes you want to hear Sean Hannity's take on it, doesn't it

        No. Nothing makes me want to hear Sean Hannity's take on anything. Stop asking.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 3 Aug 2020 @ 4:47pm

    Someone who cares about The People

    Can't have that in the Trump administration!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rolander, 3 Aug 2020 @ 4:54pm

    virgins

    Obviously the FCC is not really "independent" of politics and never has been.

    FCC is managed by non-virgin political appointees and is heavily influenced by the political winds of any current President and Congress.

    The notion that any "independent Federal agency" can actually function outside the control of the only 3 formal Federal branches (Congress, President, SCOTUS) is political fantasy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    John Roddy (profile), 3 Aug 2020 @ 5:31pm

    Xzibit A

    So the Trump administration just censored someone for no reason other than having a conservative viewpoint about an order that they claimed was specifically to prevent others from censoring anyone for no reason other than having a conservative viewpoint?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Aug 2020 @ 5:49pm

      Re: Xzibit A

      It seems he wasn't conservative enough (as in toeing the total Trump line without deviation or sass) as his point of view is that the 1st Amendment applies to all citizens and Trump only want's to apply it to speech he likes.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 4 Aug 2020 @ 4:20pm

        Re: Re: Xzibit A

        It seems he wasn't conservative enough (as in toeing the total Trump line without deviation or sass)

        I feel that "conservative" deserves a more conservative definition than that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 3 Aug 2020 @ 8:03pm

    Humans--aka living creatures--have innate rights. Corporations do not have such rights. That being said, the people who work at corporations have said rights. Try not to confuse the two. Corporations don't actually do anything; the people at each corporation do whatever is done, say whatever is said.

    If you exist nowhere but "on paper," then you have no rights beyond those enumerated in your various contracts with others. The Constitution only applies to people, as in "We the people..." Everyone with a functioning brain knows this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sumgai (profile), 3 Aug 2020 @ 8:14pm

      Re:

      Everyone with a functioning brain knows this.

      Well, I happen to "function" on a higher level then, because I recall where 144 years ago, SCOTUS sorted out this question once and for all - corporations have the same rights and duties as a "living, breathing human being". The reason for that decision was something called a legal fiction, and that was based upon the 14th Amendment. Go look it up, and be amazed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 3 Aug 2020 @ 9:49pm

      Re:

      "Corporations do not have such rights"

      Not according to the US Supreme court, which in the Citizens United case determined that they have the same First Amendment rights as you do.

      That is a major problem, but it's not the fault of the people telling you that this is legally the case.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 4 Aug 2020 @ 9:20am

        Re: Re:

        Citizens United did not invent the concept of First Amendment rights for corporations.

        Why do you think the New York Times was protected in publishing the Pentagon Papers?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2020 @ 10:42pm

      Re:

      Corporations suck for a multitude of reasons, but you are completely wrong, and it is better that you are wrong.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2020 @ 8:21am

        Re: Re:

        Why's it better to be wrong that corporations have no rights? The people who work at the corporation, and those who invest in it, would still have rights—e.g., the right to not have their business arbitrarily interfered with by government, to give their personal money to politicians, to say what they want as individuals. What's the benefit of treating a corporation as a person in its own right?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          R.H. (profile), 4 Aug 2020 @ 7:56pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Can you have an enforceable contract with a non-person? In the US, the courts say, "no." That means that a non-person corporation wouldn't have to uphold its end of any agreements and I hope you can see the problems with that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2020 @ 9:11pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Can you have an enforceable contract with a non-person? In the US, the courts say, "no."

            Citation needed.

            If true, giving corporations the full rights and responsibilities of personhood is one way to solve that, sure. It's not the only, simplest, or best way.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 Aug 2020 @ 4:31am

      Re:

      I will agree that corporations are people after Texas executes one. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, citizens united was a horrible ruling which, among other things, opened the door to unlimited and untraceable campaign contributions.
      Money == speech, which means corporate entities wield more speech than ordinary citizens, I do not think this is what was intended and certainly is not good for the country.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Aug 2020 @ 10:40pm

    it's unclear if a new Commissioner would get through any confirmation process prior to the election.

    Ho ho ho. Confirmation process? We don't need no stinking confirmation process. We appoint streams of acting officials.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 4 Aug 2020 @ 1:39am

      Re:

      Cf Anthony Tata. After it turned out that he'd not make it through Senate confirmations for Pentagon defense secretary because of outlandish public statements and conspiracy theories he spread, he withdrew his application and was nominated by Trump to act as deputy Pentagon defense secretary, a position not needing Senate confirmation. Neither is Senate confirmation required for the deputy Pentagon defense secretary becoming acting Pentagon defense secretary when the Pentagon defense secretary is reassigned or fired and the president does not bother proposing a replacement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 Aug 2020 @ 8:08am

      Remember: Any official placed into a position that would normally require Senate confirmation to hold will answer only to the person who made the placement. Confirmed appointees have to make promises to Congress; “acting” appointees need only kiss Trump’s ass.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    DIC Tools (profile), 4 Aug 2020 @ 12:04am

    Hi there,

    As I read this article just strange to know about it, and of course I agree with PaulT.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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