Want Fake News – Just Look to the FCC

by Mike Wendy on December 7, 2016

There’s been a lot of talk about so-called fake news and its effect on the outcome of the election. As the mainstream media explains it, Americans are just too splintered, too “extreme,” and too stupid to view news critically – especially what’s in their Internet news feeds – in order to make up their own minds about who’s best to run the country.

It’s all the news feed’s fault, right? All those shady, untrustworthy sites, funded by “dark money” trafficking in lies and distortion, that stole the election?

Sure. Whatever, MSM.

Somehow Uncle Sam seems to have gotten a free pass on the propaganda / fake news angle. But let’s be honest, this Administration has been doing fake news for some time now.

Just look at the FCC.

Its flagship rulings – Net Neutrality / Title II regulation of U.S. ISPs (and anything they touch) – have been a boon to the fake news industry and the reporters who dutifully and uncritically transcribed the Commission’s / Administration’s tech policy spin. Seems one could hardly go an hour without reading about some alleged ISP “atrocity” perpetrated against Internet consumers, which demanded immediate correcting by the FCC “cop on the beat.” Many times the “facts” lacing those stories came straight from the Commission’s mouth, seeking not to disseminate any truth, but rather to distort and commandeer the debate well before the truth could get its boots on.

Let’s take a look at some of that “news”:

Fake News: The FCC-commissioned, Berkman Center “Next Generation Connectivity” report in late 2009, exploited by the agency to further the National Broadband Plan and also to lay the “factual” groundwork that “open access” policy (i.e., Title II for broadband) was the best method to “coerce” (grow) U.S. broadband development, deployment and uptake.

Counterpoint: FCC’s Harvard Broadband Study Flunks Core Tests

Fake News: Since 2010, the FCC’s biannual 706 Report, which has rigged the definition of what broadband is, creating a sudden, arbitrary gap in national broadband coverage and adoption, conveniently allowing the Commission to conclude that broadband is not being timely deployed, and thus providing itself with the core justification to impose Net Neutrality / Title II regulation on the broadband marketplace.

Counterpoint: FCC Moving the Broadband Goalposts

Fake News: The agency’s loud protests that it had thoroughly studied the broadband marketplace to create its Net Neutrality rules, even though former Chief FCC Economist Tim Brennan noted that the rules were developed in an “economics-free zone” bereft of rigorous analysis needed to justify the agency’s radical shift from its previous “regulation-lite” policy to utility regulation for ISPs.

Counterpoint: “Economics-free” Obamanet

Fake News: The FCC’s claim that Net Neutrality / Title II rules do not impinge on the First Amendment free speech rights of ISPs, even though Supreme Court precedent indicates otherwise, noting that imposing common carriage obligations on mass media / press, which the ISPs functionally are, violate such rights.

Counterpoint: First Amendment and the Internet: The Press Clause Protects the Internet Transmission of Mass Media Content from Common Carrier Regulation

Fake News: The Chairman’s urging that Net Neutrality / Title II isn’t rate regulation, though ISPs are banned from charging even reasonable priority delivery fees to others in the two-sided, broadband marketplace.

Counterpoint: Title II Reclassification Is Rate Regulation.

Fake News: The “unusual collaboration” between the FCC’s press office and “clicktavist” organizations to shape and share pro-Net Neutrality press coverage, trafficking together (and exclusively) in the false narrative that there was a groundswell of support for the rule when there was not.

Counterpoint: Free Market Coalition Decries FCC’s “Unusual Collaboration” with Title II Groups

Fake News: The use of millions of unverifiable, cookie-cutter “clicktavist” comments e-mailed to the Commission, which were misleadingly employed as “probative evidence” that Net Neutrality / Title II regulation was justified.

Counterpoint: FACT CHECK: Was the FCC Influenced by 4 Million Americans

Fake News: The oft-decried “independence” of the Wheeler FCC even after it was reported that a “Shadow FCC” at the White House essentially ordered ISPs to be regulated under Title II.

Counterpoint: Net Neutrality: How White House Thwarted FCC Chief

Fake News: Chairman Wheeler’s oft-repeated assertion that the FCC “is a collegial body where the deliberative process is important,” averring, against the vote counts, that the Commission has not become a partisan tool for the Administration and its progressive agenda.

Counterpoint: The Partisan FCC

Fake News: The FCC’s claim that Section 706 of the Act allows it to preempt states and their ability to reasonably limit muni-built broadband facilities, despite the lack of clear statutory language enabling it to do so.

Counterpoint: Appeals court says FCC can’t preempt state laws on broadband

Fake News: Persistent FCC claims that its new privacy regime for ISPs protects the privacy of Internet consumers, while cleaving the industry and consumer protections into two sets of conflicting Internet privacy rules.

Counterpoint: Google: FCC Privacy Proposal Threatens Internet Economy

Fake News: The “fact” that cable companies charge consumers $231 a year in set-top box rental fees, even though that number has been thoroughly debunked and discredited.

Counterpoint: What is the True Cost of a Set-Top Box?

Fake News: Chairman Wheeler’s boast that Net Neutrality rules promote permissionless innovation.

Counterpoint: FCC Sends Letters to AT&T And Verizon: Says Free Data Service A Rip-Off? Asks Companies To Explain

Selling your product with fake news is a surefire way to ding your brand big time. No wonder it’s likely that Net Neutrality will be repealed or significantly watered down by the incoming administration. Hopefully, in its new configuration the new FCC will have learned from the old and will have ditched the propaganda, making the Commission great again (or something close).

Americans deserve better than the spin coming out of the present FCC. Fake news only serves to better cronies, not the average Joe.

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