Tom Toles’ Confused Net Neutrality Ruling Cartoon

by Mike Wendy on January 24, 2014

NetNeut Cartoon

I guess this cartoon by the Washington Post’s Tom Toles relates to last week’s Net Neutrality court ruling.  But, when you look at it, what does it mean?  The Court (working with “Big Telecom”?) is somehow portrayed as a Bridgegate conspirator?


I wrote the following letter to the editor (which was not published) explaining my take on this confused political cartoon.

Washington Post LTE, January 20, 2014:  Tom Toles’ recent cartoon (from January 19, 2014) seems to imply that a recent federal court ruling outlawing the FCC’s Net Neutrality rule is somehow analogous to Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal.

The analogy is inapt.

First of all, the Court isn’t a state’s chief executive seeking re-election.

Second, if Toles’ aim was to cast “Big Telecom” as the ruling’s main beneficiary, he failed miserably because it looks like both the bridge traffic (with “Big Telecom” trucks on it) and the onramp (with “everybody else” on it) are at a clogged standstill.  Not much benefit for any party there.

Finally, Toles left out the FCC.  Though the ruling throws out core aspects of the Commission’s Net Neutrality rule, it legitimizes the agency’s “regulatory-light” powers many thought did not exist.  Additionally, it invites the agency to more properly redefine broadband so that it may someday fully regulate it like a turn-of-the-century phone service.

Like Chris Christie, the politically constituted FCC won’t stay away from this sweet doughnut.  It will wield its new powers.  And, even if it never reclassifies broadband, it will use this as a perennial threat to regulate.

Instead of growth, gridlock will result, which – whether the author intended it or not – the picture clearly evokes.

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