August 1, 2014

Comcast Affiliated News Outlet Censored My Article About Net Neutrality Lobbying

David Honig
Minority Media and Telecommunications Council president David Honig

In a move that smacks of censorship, Republic Report has discovered that a telecom industry-affiliated lobbying group successfully persuaded an African American news website to remove an article that reported critically on the groups advocating against Net Neutrality. The order to delete the article came from the website’s parent company, a business partner to Comcast.

Last Friday, I reported on how several civil rights groups, almost all with funding from Comcast, Verizon and other Internet Service Providers, recently wrote to the Federal Communication Commission in support of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan, which would create Internet fast lanes and slow lanes, an effective death of Net Neutrality. That piece was syndicated with Salon and The Nation, and several outlets aggregated the article. For a short period, NewsOne, a news site geared towards the African American community, posted the piece along with its own commentary.

Then, the NewsOne article with my reporting disappeared.

If you Google the term ‘MMTC NewsOne,’ the NewsOne article (“Civil Rights Groups Blocking Efforts To Keep Internet Fair?”) still appears in the result list, though if you click it, it’s been deleted off of the web. Luckily, the Internet cache still has a copy.

According to discussions with several people at NewsOne, including an editor there, the decision to take down the article came from corporate headquarters. NewsOne editor Abena Agyeman-Fisher told Republic Report, “the company didn’t feel it was appropriate to have up and we were suppose to take it down.” NewsOne is owned by Radio One, a company with a 50.9% stake in a business partnership with Comcast known as TV One.

NewsOne was also contacted by a lobbying group called the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council (MMTC), an organization that has gained infamy for frequently mobilizing Black, Latino and Asian American groups to advocate on behalf of telecom industry-friendly positions, including recent big media mergers. On Monday, according to an attendee at an MMTC conference, MMTC vice president Nicol Turner-Lee referred to my reporting as a “digital lynch mob.” Turner-Lee, who resigned her previous position at a nonprofit after allegations of financial impropriety, reportedly claimed that minority organizations that support Title II reclassification — the only path for effective Net Neutrality after a court ruling in January — are not “true civil rights leaders.” UPDATE: Turner-Lee says that her resignation was unrelated to the charges, which she says were false and which NAMIC, her previous employer, found to have no basis.

Contacted by Republic Report, MMTC president David Honig confirmed that he reached out to NewsOne, and also stood by Turner-Lee’s comments from earlier this week. Asked about the digital lynch mob comment, Honig e-mailed us to say, “I stand with Dr. Turner Lee’s assessment of the various hit pieces written by you and others. She spoke in the vernacular of the movement to which she has devoted her life, and is referencing the divide and conquer tactics used for decades to undermine the civil rights movement.” Regarding the claim that no “true civil rights leaders” support reclassification, Honig replied, “she was correct. Not one of the leaders of the major national civil rights membership organizations has endorsed Title II reclassification.”

In fact, many civil rights groups and activists support reclassification and strong Net Neutrality protections. Reached by Republic Report, the organizations were livid about MMTC’s insults and the decision by NewsOne to retract its story.

“MMTC is not the arbiter of who is and who is not a true civil rights group,” says Jessica Gonzalez, vice president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which represents a broad coalition in support of Net Neutrality through reclassification. “For them to claim anyone who supports reclassification is not a true civil rights group is just laughable. We have gone to the mat for our community for decades.”

“It’s disturbing that an online news site would remove a story just because its owners and their allies might not like it,” said Joseph Torres of Free Press, the co-author of News for All the People: The Epic Story of Race and the American Media. “This smacks of corporate censorship. A news organization shouldn’t be hiding the facts about the Net Neutrality debate because its corporate owners and their allies disagree with a journalist’s reporting. This is exactly why we need Net Neutrality. We don’t want to live in a world where Comcast or AT&T gets decide which side of the story you see.”

Malkia Cyril, Executive Director of the Center for Media Justice, wrote to Republic Report to say, “I’m scared for our journalists, especially those that use the Internet to share their stories. When corporate or 20th century civil rights organizations silence the voices of journalists trying to simply report on the biggest first amendment issue of the 21st century, it only clarifies why we need strong rules that prevent censorship and discrimination on the Internet.” Cyril’s organization is a national organizing and training center for media rights that counts organizations such as  Color of Change, and others in its advocacy network.

NewsOne was not the only outlet lobbied by MMTC. The blog Field Negro was also contacted by MMTC’s David Honig, a longtime pro-telecom industry operative who told Field Negro that “no one disagrees about the desirability of an open Internet,” and argued that Net Neutrality activists are somehow equivalent to white liberals who support gentrification.

In reality, Honig has waged a multi-year war against efforts to build an Open Internet, and the groups in his network continually shift the goal posts to ensure ISPs are allowed to discriminate based on content. For instance, one of the groups that has collaborated with Honig, the Japanese American Citizens League, told the FCC in 2010 that Net Neutrality would “do more harm than good” and that they “remain unconvinced that there is a need for this type of regulation.” Well, in Honig’s latest letter on behalf of the Japanese American Citizens League, Net Neutrality is needed, but only if adopted through FCC Chairman Wheeler’s terms, which is to say, with Internet fast lanes and slow lanes.

The arguments keep changing. The only thing that stays consistent is the money and the ISP-friendly policy. Comcast, a major opponent of Net Neutrality, is a big sponsor of both the MMTC (which has received around $350,000) and the Japanese American Citizens League. Honig’s board of advisors includes Joe Waz, an executive who has led Comcast’s policy outreach.

Asked about the MMTC-organized civil rights group letters against Net Neutrality and ensuing controversy, Professor Todd Gitlin of Columbia University called them the “closest thing I can imagine to a political quid pro quo,” explaining, “the evidence they offer on the proposition that minorities would benefit in employment, in access, in the rejection of reclassification is nil. It’s a lot of huffing and puffing built on the gullibility of the reader.”

He added, “the fact NewsOne saw fit to delete a report that they previously posted without any claim that anything was mistaken in the report tells you something about their commitment to open discourse.”

Jeff Cohen, an associate professor of journalism at Ithaca College, also commented on the NewsOne decision. “Just as corporate cash can corrupt civil rights groups, this incident shows how corporate power can corrupt and censor the news.”

Advocates for strong Net Neutrality argue that the rule is necessary so ISPs do not squelch out minority viewpoints with slower speeds. ISPs, on the other hand, say they can be trusted. If just the debate around Net Neutrality is any guide, large media corporations seem willing to suppress unfavorable news content. “If this happens now,” says Cayden Mak, the New Media Director of, an Asian American advocacy group, “imagine how difficult it will be to criticize internet providers and their allies without strong Net Neutrality rules.”


  • JoseJBabb

    That piece was syndicated with Salon and The Nation, and several outlets aggregated the article. For a short period, NewsOne, a news site geared towards the African American community, posted the piece along with its own commentary. –

  • Deborrah Cooper

    Please send the article out to black bloggers all over the web. I for one will be happy to run it.

  • exsudburyguy

    As much as I support Net Neutrality, people who whine about censorship because what they wrote didn’t appear on a website they wanted annoy me. Website owners choose what they publish, just like newspaper owners and TV station owners. As a blogger you don’t have an automatic right to have stuff posted on their website. And since I found the article and read, it’s really hard to say you’ve been censored.

    • Justin Vélez-Hagan

      That’s the argument I don’t get. So many of these articles I keep reading about internet censorship appear on popular sites on….the internet. I was previously frustrated because an argument that I tried to post on HuffPo as a comment to another Net Neutrality article wasn’t posted. It was just censored away. It wasn’t as if it contained inappropriate language and I wouldn’t have thought that it was becuase it contained a view in opposition to the editors at HuffPo, except that every other comment with an opposing view was published. HOWEVER, it was a poor choice by the publisher at worst, which will result in losing my “business.” I still respected a private business’ own right to attempt to control free speech, no matter how wrong it was.

      • its happening all over the net. All over. Comments disappear, articles disappear, anything that ‘doesn’t tow the party line’ just disappears. Check the last wikileak, there was something in it about 5 countries and putting gag orders on the media, and I have to wonder if ours were involved. but if so, then by god they better start pulling together, because to start with, since when did anyone with money go to jail in america? None in the last 14 years or so.. no one but us average-americans,

        • JoeB

          Bernie Madoff?

          • arugula

            Madoff was the small potatoes who took the fall for the high and mighty; the real and massive crooks. Why do you think they let him do it for so so so long? They knew they’ might need a fall guy to throw to the wolves someday and he made himself nice and ripe for the picking.

      • Dee Leggett

        News sites are most likely relying on algorithms and natural language programming that look for ‘key words’ and just don’t let them past the gate.

    • The difference is when the article appears as the editors chose, then was taken down due to influence from an outside, or ‘up-line’ request because of opposing views. One is simple, the editor chose not to have it. The other however, is sensor ship

      • Justin Vélez-Hagan

        You might be right, but what’s the alternative? Force all publishers to post whatever their editors choose? Editors should have final choice on all content regardless of what the owner’s decide the direction of the publication should take? If we do that, no editor on earth will have any autonomy. They’ll have to run every article by their publishing team first. THAT would be real censorship.

        • Yes, Editors should have a full and free rein to post exactly what they think the story is. Right now that’s not happening, as displayed by CNN, who broke the story of the Bombing in Ukraine (it has been going on for a month) Then the next day, nadda, nothing, silence, now they are towing the party line. So isn’t that exactly what has happened to our media? They are all printing, saying, running with the story, they are told too, nothing more, nothing less.

          Look at the snow job on Ukraine, as an example. There’s less snow on Alyeska in the winter. The Ukraine Gov. is currently manned by “Nazi’s” their Parents were nazi’s, and their grandparents worked directly with Hitler and THEY ARE PROUD OF IT. They have parades, everyone knows this. Now, our government went it in and put them in power and what have they done? shot down a few planes, (missed president putins which is what they were aiming for) Russia and other countries have provided evidence, what has our country provided? NADDA, Not A Single Piece of Evidence.

          This is not the first time the ethnic russians in ukraine have faced this. but I am completely ashamed this is what MY GOVERNMENT is doing to peaceful people. Completely ashamed.

          Net Neutrality is paramount to 1. GrassRoots, 2. Truth in Media, 3. Information dissemination.

          If they take away net neutrality you can kiss what little is left of your civil rights or any other rights away. In case you were not aware, the US is in a bit of a struggle right now, Big Business v. The People.

        • arugula

          You’re talking as if we still had a free investigative media, bless your heart…. How I WISH that were so…!! Take a media empire like Hearst had or Murdoch now has and you know the owner dictates everything that does or does not see print! Was here ever a time when the CIA DIDN’T shoot reporters for telling the truth…sigh….

  • AmyGoodman (admirer of)

    exsud: You miss the point. Shouldn’t have to search all bloggers and channels. It’s news people need (by great journalists using investigative skills) — like knowing who really pays for political commercials, in order to judge fairness of laws and movements, candidates and legislators! Corporate money is corrupting politics unfathomably. F Fathers would not recognize this country, since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, as having Democracy, maybe Fascism-Soft, military armed but standing at dress att’n to do bidding of world-wide corporations.

    • Exactly, Our News Media is getting more and more corrupt as time goes on. I do however see other media sources being developed by investigative journalist who are investigating and reporting facts. Its good to see these placing arising, But it hurts my heart to see places like the Wall Street Journal and more whose commenting forums have devolved to bullying and name calling if you disagree with some of the opinions.

      • Arugula

        Yes, Elaine… it kills doesn’t it? That’s because purveyor of sleaze and lies, Rupert Murdoch, bought WSJ so he COULD corrupt what once was a bastion of right leaning but honest monetary reportage. He was also counting on people not realizing it had changed hands and would still trust it’s advice… which people can no longer be so sure of…..

        • Nothing could be more obvious right now, than the bias and obstructionism in our media than the incident in the Ukraine and what really is happening there, which, putting it shortly, Victoria Nuland and the Previous Ambassador to Ukraine, Now Ambassador to Russia, plotted and succedded to put Neo-Nazi’s in Party to disenfranchise the Eastern Ukrainian People. The Nazi’s have bombed their own Cities, Cities with over 1 million people in them, that’s the size of Seattle. Then let a Humanitarian aid truck sit at the border for 10 days while they ‘decided if they would let Russia’s trucks in or not’ (three agencies and multiple reporters went through and took pictures of the trucks, So all the while they were deciding to let the Humanitarian Aid in, They KEPT BOMBING their own people, They have been committing Genocide to wipe out the ‘peasants’ as they call them. Damn Scary stuff I’ll tell you. We back ISIS in Syria to start a civil war there, now Ukraine to start a civil war there. And our media just lets it all slide. I don’t read the big papers anymore at all. BTW, Russia Considers the “Ambassador” we sent them as an Insult. Putin won’t deal with him, he’s been stationed three different places and directly after leaving the countries, Civil Wars Broke Out. EVERY ONE He Was stationed at, it’s not a coincidence.

    • Ken Madsen

      The word you need is corporatocracy

    • AmyGoodman (admirer of)

      Ken Madsen, I’ve heard corporatocracy but it isn’t found in all dictionaries and my spell-checker won’t stop underlining it. But that’s NO REASON to dismiss it as what I describe, above. Instead, I used “fascism” because it’s more known historically and it also implies military complicity in controlling THE PEOPLE. With drones (now used to deliver packages and so, becoming familiar and so, accepted), with the NSA spying on us and with a huge portion of THE non-rich PEOPLE in jail, that’s clearly part of this gang’s agenda, I fear.

  • I appreciate this article. However, I thought the detail about Turner-Lee’s alleged acts of financial impropriety was unnecessary and a little ad hominem. I think the point of the article comes across perfectly without that clause.

    • Primus

      I disagree. An ad hominem is a logical fallacy in which someone rejects someone else’s argument on the basis of some irrelevant fact about the person presenting the argument.

      Lee Fang comments against Turner-Lee’s comment of his article being a ““digital lynch mob”, so her financial impropriety history may seem like an ad-hominem attack at first glance. However upon completion of the sentence, It seems that her history is a relevant premise for Lee Fang’s argument.

      The author brings up a quote by Lee Fang, in which she says that an those who want effective Net-Neutrality are not true Civil Rights Leaders. This is a completely ironic statement, since Net Neutrality is the policy that prevents large, rich entities from getting a monopoly in the internet.

      Her financial impropriety history IS relevant, because it suggests that in her position of leadership in Civil Rights and multi-ethnicity communications, Dr. Turner Lee is known to have committed immoral financial acts. These two incidents together suggest that Turner Lee has a tendency to support those with power (those with wealth) rather than the minority that she claims to support.

      • Thanks for the response! However, I disagree. Ad hominem, while being a logical fallacy, can also be used as an adjective to describe a statement that attacks a person’s character rather than answering his or her argument (per Dictionary . com).

        Now of course, Turner-Lee didn’t really Have an argument to attack (as didn’t any of the anti-reclassification actors in this article). But it is misleading to include the detail about her Alleged impropriety. The fact that it was Alleged and not Proven in a court of law leaves a reasonable doubt (at least, to the unknowledgeable reader [us]) as to whether or not Turner-Lee actually Committed financially improper acts.

        And even if the allegations made against her were true, they do not exactly suggest that “Turner Lee has a tendency to support those with power (those with wealth) rather than the minority. According to an article on the subject (linked to below), the allegations were first brought forth in an anonymous e-mail sent to “industry organizations and the trade press”:

        “The e-mail — sent from someone calling himself or herself Tony Stark, the alias for Marvel Comics’ Iron Man superhero character, and supposedly representing NAMIC members — expressed “concerns” regarding the alleged mishandling and misappropriation of funds by Turner-Lee, who took over the diversity-based organization last April. The e-mail also made claims about outstanding debts owed to the Darden School – NAMIC’s executive education partner — and “deteriorating relationships” with high-profile vendors including the Hilton New York Hotel, which hosted NAMIC’s annual conference last September.

        (from: )

        Of course, the site on which this information was posted may be affiliated with NewsOne/MMTC/any of the censoring actors (perhaps even Turner-Lee herself). However, it is unlikely that the story’s key facts were misrepresented.

        (and on a side-note, does “improper” necessarily translate to “immoral”? just because an act is prohibited by law doesn’t make it immoral)

        Anyway, sorry for the long-ass reply! Thanks for reading.

        • Primus

          You strike a valid point that the placement details about Dr. Turner Lee can be misleading. Although the statement about the allegations is a premise to the hidden argument against Dr. Turner Lee’s credibility as a rights leader (which is a completely logical argument). The placement of sentence can also be used as an ad hominem response to Dr. Turner Lee’s statement. The Author probably intended this.

          I disagree with your statements about the accusations having to be proven in court of law. A legal trial isn’t the only provision of truth. In Turner-Lee’s case charges were never filed, because her case was never reviewed by a court of law. We cannot assume there was reasonable doubt, because a trial never too place to review the evidence. A week after the allegations, Turner-Lee resigned. This is a common practice amongst businesses and government officials amidst a scandal. The bosses will pressure the official to resign in order to avoid a trial (usually to avoid bad press and to avoid releasing sensitive data). Turner Lee probably avoided a legal trial by resigning.

          (answering the side note, impropriety means improper conduct on the basis of immoral actions [usually dishonesty in the context of financial impropriety]).

          • I don’t think Turner Lee’s credibility as a civil rights authority has anything to do with the rest of the article, though.

            The article, on corporate control over and censorship of news media that potentially threaten their interests, does digress momentarily into a discussion on civil rights groups.

            But the sentence noting Turner Lee’s “digital lynch mob” remark, which was needed to lead into the discussion of whether civil rights’ groups support reclassification, did not need to contain the detail about the allegations previously made against her. Remove that clause, and you see that the discussion on civil rights groups proceeds just as smoothly.

            I agree that the court system is not the arbiter of truth. However, we are forced to doubt the allegations made against Turner Lee by the mere fact that we do not Know whether or not she actually committed those financially improper acts (as there is no evidence available to us that proves or even indicates that she did).

            We don’t know whether she did or did not commit the acts; we’re given no reason to assume that she did. Probability does not equal certainty, and I think that premises used to establish a person’s credibility (or lack thereof) ought to be held to a higher standard than “maybe.” Especially in journalism.

          • arugula

            If you’ve ever sat through an important detailed trial, it’s convoluted discussions like this that confuse or bore jurors until they can barely think and it allow smany serious crooks off the hook…..

    • arugula

      That would be one heck of an important detail to hide since it should strongly affect whether she is beleiveable in this context…. or at all.

  • Jeneba Jalloh Ghatt

    “If just the debate around Net Neutrality is any guide, large media corporations seem willing to suppress unfavorable news content .”

    This flows both ways in this highly contested matter as comments I made on Pro-Net Neutrality articles have gotten blocked, deleted and suppressed as well, as recent as yesterday.

    But alas…that is the nature of the robust Internet that has existed since 1991 and the fact that more recently, we have a universe of millions of websites that are free to print what they wish and suppress content that do not comport with their past positions.

    There are more Issues and partisan news sites than traditional online news sites like Wall Street Journal and New York Times and even those have political slants.

    And also changed has been the way that blogs monetize their sites.

    Just the other day, I discovered that TechDirt was soliciting donations to support their writing of Pro-Net Neutrality articles — this despite the fact that many users may believe the pieces posted there are neutral and balanced, when in fact, they would and should be described as sponsored posts, funded by those interested in promoting but one side of a contentious debate.

    So, in sum, you really don’t have a leg to stand on critiquing but one side of this issue while remaining silent on efforts by pro-Net Neutrality sites to suppress opposition.

    Well… only if you didn’t know before that this complaint of yours is NOT unique to News One.

    • Justin Vélez-Hagan

      I saw something similar about Techdirt. Seemed a little fishy that they were soliciting through crowdfunding that was being matched by an anonymous source.

  • Justin Vélez-Hagan

    Mr. Torres of Free Press makes some interesting remarks that I think a lot of Net Neutrality advocates support, saying that we don’t want to live in a world where internet providers get to decide what we see.

    My only problem is, the course that we take to get there? Who will monitor the web to ensure all media gets through? Should we hire a million bureaucrats, all owing allegiance to a certain political party (one day it will be a Republican) to filter through and decide what should or shouldn’t be seen? Should the gov’t make it illegal to filter any messaging, thereby restricting the rights of the publisher to publish his/her views and ensuring that spammers and loons alike are allowed to post any crazy thought that comes to their head on a site or in the comment bar? I’m just concerned about where this line of thinking will lead.

  • Justin Vélez-Hagan

    As to the heart of the article, I’m perhaps most surprised by how many of these pieces are written by Net Neutrality advocates without any comment on the merits of the arguments surrounding the issue. Why can’t we have a simple discussion on the choices before us instead of constantly attacking the messenger? Everyone who is employed is backed by someone who has a view and once supported so and so who happens to be of a political party. No matter your view, someone will be able to find a trail that can point to someone who might have been influential in your life or organization. Why waste so much energy on finding who is in that trail when you could be making intellectual arguments about whether a policy will be beneficial or detrimental to society?

    That being said, it’s really hard to argue that life isn’t pretty good online right now. I’ve never even heard of republic report before this week (admittedly I’m more of a “paper in the hand” kinda guy) and yet this site clearly gets a lot of views and has the power to influence a lot of minds. There seem to be a million more like it after a quick search. How can anyone make the argument that they are therefore being filtered by internet providers? Even if a certain publisher filters you, look at the power the freedom of the internet just gave you to counter that? You found it cached, reposted it here, and made an even bigger stink of it. If whoever hadn’t removed it, would you be better off? That’s the great “problem” of the free internet, the last bastion of truly free thinking, reporting, and speech that still exists without impediment.

    Why do we want to start messing with what isn’t broken? And do we want an agency who has some of the most outdated tech in the govt (FCC) figuring out how to regulate the internet? Even they don’t want to go the way that net neutrality advocates do.

    • The biggest reason they want to create a ‘fast lane’ is so they can charge more. citing issues such as repair and maintenance, replacing outdated infrastructure which they publicly state they cannot currently afford todo. However, I discount this argument wholly due to looking at the last five year bonus schedule for comcast’s top 5 executives. each receives between 30-35 MILLION PER YEAR in bonus’ (fully documented) which means, for just the top five executives they are paying out well over 120 Million dollars. Granted Comcast is a large company but if their equipment needed replacing that bad,or additional cable laid seems there’s a big chunk of change sitting there they could pull from.

  • Howard Treesong

    ComCast rightfully censors these messages, they conflict with their corporate message and we cannot allow for that.

    • arugula

      Sure because it is censorship to stop people hearing other sides and often from hearing the truth. NOT the democratic freedom loving way by any means.. I remember when you didn’t have sell your soul to devils to get the millions it costs to get elected today…I remember when if you wanted a job you could get one and people did work. Millionaires and greed have morphed into suffering and misery for billion so the 13 families can make life hell for the hoi polloi!!! You can thank the BUSH family for much of that … You can do the research and see that it is true… at least you can unless they do this net exclusivity censorship crime to us…

  • Master Flash

    Killing net neutrality should be looked at as killing your natural right to speak freely guaranteed by the first amendment. This is a serious breach of our constitution and an attack on net neutrality should be looked at as a direct attack on our country. We cannot survive without free exchange of information and communication. The end of net neutrality will be the death knelll of the USA.

  • Master Flash

    If you don’t think this is the most important topic for our country in your lifetime you better study the issue, think about it, and realize the consequences or our future is completely -.

  • Paul Della

    How exactly is this lobbying group managing to get Black, Latino and Asian American groups to advocate on behalf of telecom industry-friendly positions?
    What sort of tactics is the lobbying group using?
    I think that topic deserves its own article.

    • They were paid to lobby for them. literally and very large sums of money for their organizations, comcast will now sponsor their events. I’ll try and find the references,they were posted somewhere today so, bbiab hopefully with your references.

    • arugula

      There are always easy pickins somewhere. You just have to find, praise and groom them is all. Clearly there IS a sucker born every minute or American and democracy wouldn’t be in any trouble at all. There’s nothing wrong with capitalism when it is well-regulated. It only goes haywire when bad presidents start deregulating the laws that protect us from grifters and monopoly. Privatization of utilities, prisons, schools, etc…would have given the founding fathers a heart attack!!

    • arugula

      By LYING to them.

  • Kristal High

    As someone who has personally had my views on net neutrality (both in articles submitted and in comments placed in response to other articles) censored by the likes of The Huffington Post and The Washington Post, I understand your frustration that a news outlet would curb the expression of your ideas.

    That said, what I’ve come to understand about this debate is that ALL media outlets – not just NewsOne – can and will make editorial decisions consistent with the views/perspectives they want to advance. If NewsOne received word from their parent company to take down your article – which impugns the character of several organizations and their leaders and presumes that certain minority-led and focused organizations can’t think for themselves – it’s likely because they didn’t want to be associated with some of the more spurious claims you’re advancing.

    I have also come to understand that the more time and energy that’s spent on going back and forth over who raised what money and from whom is valuable time that’s not spent addressing these issues on the merits.

    Given your position as a National Institute Fellow and the breadth of media outlets you both contribute to and that will carry your coverage, not to mention the volumes of Internet-based coalitions you can influence, I’d think your time and attention could be better spent on advancing the actual dialogue on the merits of Chairman Wheeler’s plan v. Title II reclassification.

    Without going into too much detail, the D.C. Circuit opinion in Verizon v. FCC did not say that Title II is the only way to uphold net neutrality. It said that, as written, the FCC did not have authority to regulate broadband service providers as common carriers. The net neutrality rules Wheeler is advancing, however, do not require common carrier status, which is why sec. 706 is a more than adequate source of authority for the Commission to uphold net neutrality. There are a variety of consequences for Title II, many of which increase the amount of fees that can be rolled over to consumers at both the federal AND state levels, and disclosure and permission requirements that can slow the roll-out time for additional broadband deployment and network upgrades – all things that ultimately hurt people who could benefit from broadband.

    Until we start having a legitimate conversation around the merits of Title II v. sec. 706, minorities and low-income consumers will not reap maximum benefits from the Internet.

    I get that your goal is to investigate how money corrupts democracy, but you should also take a look at how peddling sound bites and inattention to the underlying facts of a matter undermines democracy even more. If you have a legitimately informed public, it makes it harder for lobbying dollars to make a significant impact.

    • arugula

      Yes.. and for a a legitimately informed public to exist net neutrality is imperative Thanks for your clearly stated position. .I do hate the endless nitpicking over precise use, exact placement and possible interpretations of almost every word … until zzzzzzzzzzzz

  • start up company

    Startup company, net neutral internet provider

  • Holy backfire Batman!

    We’ve been naming and shaming the sock puppet “non-profit/civil rights” groups for selling out their integrity in return for contributions for several years now. Donors rarely know where their money is really going, so we helpfully show them. Now we can also show regulators what happens when Comcast is embarrassed. They use their extensive media power to censor articles that upset their corporate agenda.

    The response Lee got is about on par when groups scurry for cover when the full disclosure lights are switched on. They cannot defend the practice so they attack the messenger. We’ve been called racist, anti-Latino, cruel, and even Republican tea party members. 🙂

    The wounds here are self-inflicted by these groups. Boys and Girls Club, Urban League, LULAC, National Grange, US Cattlemen’s Association, even the NAACP and GLAAD have all decided at one time or another their core missions are best fulfilled advocating for Big Telecom’s multi-billion dollar business deals.

    But somehow their donors don’t know they are frequent filers with the FCC and state regulators, so decided to be helpful and launched our Alert Your Donors campaign this year. When a dollar-for-a-holler group filing turns up, we make sure donors following their Twitter feed, Facebook page and other discussion groups know exactly what the group wrote. We even send copies to the local media as a story idea.

    The response has been terrific. Group leaders are outraged their Money Party with Comcast, et al,, has been exposed, donors are thankful and can redirect their contributions to more ethical groups, and the media has a story.

    Now we’re not haters. We inform every group we’ll rescind our letters if they’ll rescind theirs, and we can consider the whole matter a teachable civics moment.

  • Bad Dog

    The stooges in the US gov’t and the FCC can rot in hell! Get your greedy dirty hands off my internet! These criminals are having too hard a time keeping wool pulled over everyone’s eye’s. They need to go. Every one of them. YOU CRIMINALS HAVE BEEN EXPOSED FOR WHAT YOU ARE AND NO AMOUNT OF CENSORSHIP CAN TAKE AWAY THAT KNOWLEDGE THE CAT IS OUT OF THE BAG.

    • While I appreciate your passion and support of fair net neutrality laws, I can’t help but think expressing it with all caps, cursing, and wishes of damnation is a good way to argue for Title II. Please be aware that people spin this kind of comment into negative publicity. Never censor your advocacy for a fair and open internet, of course, and don’t think you have to take my advice (as I’m a total stranger), but please consider discussing this matter in a calm and rational way.

    • kluvlaw

      How is the US Government, who invented the internet, and the FCC, who has the right to regulate the internet, putting their “greedy hands” on your internet when they are not being paid (i.e.- greed is not a variable) and would only regulate and ensure fair access to the internet FOR ALL PEOPLE, just as they did to ensure telephone service decades ago?

      As opposed to the demonstrably greedy, and poor service providing, telecom industry who does want their “greedy hands” all over your internet?

      • Bad Dog

        You’ve got to be kidding me. And as far as BlueSaved……….you can forget the calm and rational way. I’ve never once seen anything in my life won that wasn’t a hard fight.

        And explain to me what fast and slow lanes have to do with fair access to all people? That’s just the idiotic reasoning that’s the mainstream excuse much like ‘save the children’ when it comes to guns.

        Both of you are sellout pussies.

      • Bert

        US Gov invented the internet? What planet you on boy? You need to lay off that bong.

      • arugula

        The government did NOT create the internet. It regulates it… and every damned thing else, like personal morality which is infuriatingly UNdemocratic! I think the confusion about creation comes in because Al Gore worked relentlessly and fought almost everybody in politics like hell to make the net free and open.

        This will probably interest you…
        “Sure, you can’t copyright an idea that goes back to God and Hammurabi, but one might think that Wallechinsky might be seething about seeing his child so misused.”

        • kluvlaw

          It has nothing to do with Gore and the project preceded his role in pushing the internet by 20+ years.

          “A project which began in the Pentagon that year, called Arpanet, gave birth to the Internet protocols sometime later (during the 1970’s)…Arpanet was about time-sharing. Time sharing tried to make it possible for research institutions to use the processing power of other institutions computers when they had large calculations to do that required more power, or when someone else’s facility might do the job better…So it’s reasonable to say that ARPANET failed in its purpose, but in the process it made some significant discoveries that were to result in the creation of the first Internet. These included email developments, packet switching implementations, and development of the (Transport Control Protocol – Internet Protocol) or TCP/IP.”

    • arugula

      One thing I can say that there is no possible NO argument against… Americans pay more than double what every other nation on the earth for the slowest, crummiest service and internet in the whole world!!! I mean when Estonia has clearer, faster, cheaper internet than we do….? COME ON!!! How can anyone believe she didn’t know exactly who she was shilling for!!!!

  • Sam

    None of their censorship or legal chicanery will save Comcast from being the worst, most hated company in America. How does it feel Comcast execs?

    • namora

      When you have no conscience who cares?

    • arugula

      They won’t feel a thing unless they lose this fight.

    • arugula

      You think they CARE what WE think…..
      These guys own the planet and unless we atart boycotting and electing pub;iv serbants instead of Big Pharma, corporations, hate-based religious zealotry , get rid of citizen’s united and the patriot act… we will go down and lose America completely

  • chiguy8288

    Mr Fang complains about being censored while at the same time the publication he works for The Nation censors commenters who dare to disagree with his and their other writers stories .
    But then again being a liberal /progressive often requires one to be a hypocrite to tow the line .

    • namora

      So wrong! Being a progressive Demands that you speak your mind and ignore the threats of censorship. Liberals not so much. Liberals remind me of a forgotten scotch on the rocks.

    • arugula

      You are so full of guano, chiguy8288… I see plenty of heated exchanges on progressive sites. I get into them so I know yo0u lie like a rug….. it is the right and uptight sites that censor like crazy… evaporating your entries..

  • Gearmoe

    Reminds me of arguing with auto or oil industries. And agreed, losing net neutrality with change the future, not for the better. Those big companies want all the revenue they can grab to offset current and future infrastructure costs. The goal is not to lose a penny and make millions (billions). Along the way of making bank, severe bottlenecks and filters are used, thus creating tiers to sell. A dummied-down www for most, a mediocre one, and a fast one. And even at the top, they will then have the ability to censor and control content like never before. The danger is you won’t know it, it’ll just happen. Great power, significant control, propaganda machine deluxe.

    • arugula

      I strongly suspect it is much more about censorship and the old never teach the slaves to read kind of mindset…keeping them ignorant enough to be docile and easier to control.

  • Net neutrality is a civil rights issue or should be. But people have to vote out congress that opposes it.

  • JoeB

    Can I get a good functional definition of “Net Neutrality” ? Shouldn’t Netflix, Hula, Amazon, etc. pay extra for all the bandwidth that streaming requires. As for censorship and editing; without it there would be utter chaos. While we have the freedom to express our opinions, we do not have the right to expect them to be universally distributed at no cost. The “Free Internet” has to be paid for by someone. As with much of what we take for granted today, its’ development was paid for by the Government (Taxpayers), then released for public use by whomever wanted to spend the money to develop it. Remember AOL & Prodigy? I still have a couple of 200 baud modems if you want to go back to the days when you had to pay long distance charges to access a BBS.

    • BruceD13

      Netflix, Hula, Amazon, etc. already pay extra for all the bandwidth that streaming requires. Every web host has different hosting plans with different bandwidths and different data rates.

      I usually support the government staying out of it. But the ISPs have legally granted monopolies. There’s usually no more than two ISPs in any given area – a cable company and a phone company, both of which have local legally enforced monopolies. You can also get a wireless internet USB stick at the supermarket but it costs quite a bit per MB. So effectively the government forcibly limits competition. If there was a free-market where anyone could come in and install cable and provide service, then we can talk about the government not intervening.

      What I don’t want is to have the stuff I surf, usually not mainstream media or Netflix, etc, be slowed so I have to wait. If I put up a website at Mom & Pop webhost, I don’t want my site slowed down. If I could go somewhere else or my web host go somewhere else for connectivity, then I’d have no problem. But there is nowhere else to go except the phone company or the cable company, and that’s legally enforced.

      If I thought that the big guys would get faster service but my service wouldn’t be affected, I’d have no problem with it. But I suspect that my service would be slowed, and with software and app and filesize bloat, surfing the internet would get slower.

      • JoeB

        Thanks for a reasoned reply! Quick disclosure: I worked for 35+ years in the broadcast & cable industry and part of my retirement portfolio includes AT&T, Comcast & Verizon. So I’m not totally disinterested financially.
        I certainly hope that speeds will continue to increase, but like you, I fear the bloat will increase along with the speed. I have fast service but on some of the websites that I access for historical & genealogical info, I think the speed with which it loads is due to slow servers and the info being in small systems at the origin not with my ISP. Technically I connect in the 90 MB/S range, but if it has a lot of graphics or video, it seems like DSL Hell! And virtually every website seems to have to load some sort of annoying ads!
        My major concern arises with who decides what is “Neutral”. I hardly consider the FCC to be “neutral”, due to its’ structure as a regulator. Its original purpose was to enforce technical standards and it did a very good job at that. It was when it got into content issues that it became a political football; i.e.. Watergate, Contragate, et al. I honestly can’t think of who would be “neutral” as a regulator and see this to be a real stumbling block. Much, if not most, of the rhetoric on this issue seems, at least to me, to be about content not the size or speed of the pipe. I don’t think it will ever be settled even if we all have multi-gigabit fiber to our computers.
        I would take issue with your statement that ISP’s are a legally enforceable monopoly. Federal law and California laws, at least, allow overbuilds. The issue is mostly the cost to recreate the infrastructure, which is high, in both urban and rural areas (unless your Google, that is, and are starting from scratch). Moore’s law still applies and always will-Just like Murphy’s! High speed wireless generally can still be classified as mostly science fiction; maybe in another 10-15 years. Also, if the provider uses “Public Property”, light poles, conduits, etc., it can be a good source of revenue for local government; “franchise fees” can run from 5-7% of the operators gross income as well as providing services to the municipalities involved.
        Thanks for an refreshing discussion.

      • arugula

        The founding fathers were extremely careful to make monopolies illegal except for huge infrastructure projects in parnership with government like dams, bridges, roadways trains…and those monopolies had to be disbanded after 40 years SO THAT NO ONE COULD GET RICH AND POWERFUL ENOUGH TO DO EXACTLY WHAT THE RIGHT HAS DONE .. they have bought the government of the USA… the FF would drop dead at this privatization theft….all this has happened in my own lifetime… I know what America was like and this definitely ain’t it…. sigh…

    • arugula

      Don’t be so disingenuous… Of course we pay for services but we shouldn’t be gouged or have less access to good service than rich people. One price fits all for the same level of GOOD service. The whole rest of the world pays less than half what we do for fasterspeed and crystal clear service. Don’t even try to complicate something that is simple as can be. Neutrality in this case means one price for good service. If third world countries can do it don’t even try telling me we can’t. BTW- the development already exists and runs great everywhere but here!

  • pen2guin3

    When it comes down to the core principles of Net-Neutrality – Master Flash has hit the nail on the head. Our founding fathers are rolling over in their graves as they watch our great government twist, fold and bend the constitution into something that benefits their own political/financial agendas. Trust me the BIG money companies that are trying to gut Net-Neutrality isn’t pushing this issue in the interest of their customers. They are pushing this issue for one and one reason ONLY……and that’s for money —– plain and simple..!

  • MMTC

    Most of the assertions given as facts in this article and the other referenced by Mr. Fang are false. In light of this, MMTC has taken the unusual step of providing a full rebuttal.

    Our full press release:

    Document rebutting the 16 false, misleading, unsupported, or libelous statements in both of Mr. Fang’s articles:

    Rev. Jesse Jackson’s statement on the recent public attacks on national civil rights organizations:

    A more balanced article on our open Internet stance:

  • Momo11

    50.9% stake isn’t much of an overwhelming majority influence although I guess it’s the majority. I guess that’s what scares me the most about this: barely over the majority line and such a swift & thorough response (without going through all the details, it sounds like people got to mudslinging pretty quickly). And with everything going electronic: it’s going to be so easy to rewrite our history…

  • Pingback: Net Neutrality and Civil Rights Groups: Censorship and Selling Out | Nonprofit Quarterly()