Net Neutrality – The (Fundraising) Gift That Keeps on Giving

by Mike Wendy on April 25, 2017

It’s that time of year again. As non-profits ready their tax returns due next month, activist “c3’s” like Public Knowledge and Free Press are looking woefully at their anemic, post-Trump-win bank accounts and are desperately searching for their next fundraising opportunity. In the telecom world, they’ve turned to their old reliable cash cow – Net Neutrality.

Play along with MediaFreedom and see how many of the “Telecom Activist Script” scenes and lines you can spot as the Net Neutrality debate / Broadway play heats up (yet again):

Scene 1: “Coalition” building

  • Create a “sky-is-falling” controversy, such as decrying the FCC’s work to address the unsustainable Net Neutrality Order.
  • Send fundraising email – you can’t get organized without everyone chipping in $5.
  • Create a new coalition and call it something like “Free Access to Knowledge and E-Mail” (the FAKE coalition), and ask the usual “consumer” groups (the ones funded by Silicon Valley, Soros, and the Ford Foundation) to join.
  • Issue a joint press release caterwauling against the FCC’s new efforts, calling them “an affront to humankind.” Blame the Commission’s work on the lobbying influence of “evil” corporations and the 2010 Citizens United ruling.
  • Plant “news” pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post, stating that Net Neutrality is “settled science,” which, should the FCC alter it in any manner, represents “an existential threat to the Internet as we know it.”
  • Dog whistle all the progressive trolls so they write scathing, anti-corporate screeds against the lobbyist-captured FCC and greedy “profit before people” corporations.

Net Neutrality “fauxtesters” demonstrating at the FCC, July 2014.

Scene 2: “Outrage”

  • Send another fundraising email – “You can’t fight the ‘Big Evil Corporations’ unless everyone chips in $10.”
  • Urge Congress to get involved because it’s just not right that a “rogue” FCC be allowed to create policy and law without Congress’ say-so.
  • Get Senators Liz Warren, Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, and Ed Markey to tweet “Peace, love, and a free Internet!” Extra points if they hold an “impromptu” press conference in the Senate Swamp.
  • Get Senator Al Franken and professional activist, Susan Crawford, on NPR to exclaim that “Net Neutrality is the First Amendment issue of our time,” with the two barking that the FCC’s “reasonable rules” are justified because ISPs are just “dumb pipes” and not really communications companies at all.
  • Fire-up the computer database in Mountain View and send 4.1 million “grassroots” e-mails to the FCC, Congress, and the President, urging them to shut down the FCC’s anti-Net Neutrality, anti-free speech efforts. Don’t forget to boast about the number and how “The People” (bots) have spoken “truth to power.”
  • Trot out Gigi Sohn, Harold Feld, Matt Wood, and Medea Benjamin for a press conference in front of the FCC. Hire fill-in protesters, holding signs emblazoned with “Net Neutrality Saves Puppies,” etc.
  • Get HBO’s John Oliver to do another Internet “buggery” piece, and plant a “news” piece in the New York Times and Washington Post about how cool Oliver is and how he speaks “truth to power.”

Busy as beavers: Joyless, paid-for Net Neutrality “activists” fill an FCC viewing room, cranking out their fundraising “action alerts” during the vote to impose Net Neutrality / utility regulation on the Internet, February 2015.

Scene 3: Declare “Victory,” (or, sort of)

  • Send out yet another “We’re almost there” fundraising e-mail asking supporters to dig deep into their Apple Pay apps to help “The Fight against gatekeeping corporations that want to favor their stuff over yours.” $15 will do.
  • “Rickroll” the FCC’s open meeting.
  • Declare victory, but reiterate “More Work Needs to be Done.”
  • Repeat Scene 1 and sequence, highlighting the FCC’s latest anti-Net Neutrality “atrocities,” until the non-profits’ financials make it firmly out of the red.

Watch along at home and check back to see how many of the “lines” we’ve spotted over the next few weeks.

If you have an additional act or line you would like to see added to the list, drop them in the comment box below.

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