UPDATE: Bad Polls, Moon Science, And Internet Freedom

Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

The standard refrain from the anti-internet freedom lobby has, for some time now, been that the FCC's new open internet rules represent a "takeover" or "regulation of the internet." It's an argument that didn't have a lot of factual juice to begin with, and now that the FCC's rules are actually on the books, it comes off as pretty foolish.

But Americans For Prosperity vice president Phil Kerpen is sticking with it, and glamming it up with some amusing histrionics. This morning The Examiner published an excerpt of Kerpen's grandiloquently subtitled book: Democracy Denied: How Obama Is Ignoring You and Bypassing Congress to Radically Transform America -- and How to Stop Him. The battle for the internet, it seems, has transcended the stratosphere:

On Dec. 21, 2010, President Obama's Federal Communications Commission fittingly chose the darkest day in 372 years to impose potentially devastating regulations on the previously free-market Internet.

Early that morning, for the first time since 1638, the moon was eclipsed, blocking out the sun on the day of the winter solstice, already the darkest day of the year.

And just as the moon was eclipsed that day, Congress, the American people, and our constitutional system of government will be eclipsed if the FCC's regulatory coup d'etat -- orchestrated by the White House -- is allowed to stand.

Before we even get to internet policy, I have to point out that Kerpen doesn't quite understand the moon (a common affliction on the right). A lunar eclipse -- like the one that happened last December -- occurs when the Earth blocks the sun's rays from reaching the moon. What Kerpen describes is a solar eclipse, in which the moon blocks out the sun and prevents its rays from reaching the Earth.

Kerpen's poor description of lunar science is eclipsed (sorry) by his willful distortion of the new FCC rules:

On a party-line vote, three Democrats at the FCC decided to substitute their own judgment for the legitimate democratic process.

Those three FCC commissioners ordered that the Internet be regulated in the name of network neutrality, despite the fact that regulations had almost no support in Congress.

Untrue. The new rules apply only to internet service providers, and prevent them from regulating internet users' access to lawful online content. Nothing in the rules gives the FCC authority to "regulate" the content internet users can access.

Even still, Kerpen argues the American people are on his side:

The public overwhelmingly opposed regulation. A Rasmussen poll conducted at the time of the order found that only 21 percent of Americans supported Internet regulation, with 54 percent opposed. The poll also found that 56 percent of Americans thought the FCC would use its newly created powers to pursue a political agenda.

How did we get to the point where the FCC would ignore all of that and regulate the Internet? It took a remarkable political effort from the far Left, and a breakdown in our constitutional system that allowed regulators to bypass Congress. That breakdown must be corrected.

Here is the Rasmussen poll in question, which, given that it enthusiastically adopts the false right-wing framing of internet "regulation," falls more into the category of push-polling. A sample question: "What is the best way to protect those who use the Internet -- more government regulation or more free market competition?" That's both a false choice and a misrepresentation of the open internet rules.

Hysterically bad moon science aside, Kerpen's piece is just a retread of the same stale argument the opponents of internet freedom have been flogging for years. The message discipline is impressive, and likely appreciated in the corporate offices of telecom providers who are eager to promulgate that very same talking point. Verizon this week sued the FCC over the new rules, saying the agency asserted "broad authority to impose potentially sweeping and unneeded regulations on broadband networks and services and on the Internet itself."


Phil Kerpen responds via Twitter:

An excellent riposte to something I didn't write. No response thus far to the real point -- that he lies about the FCC's open internet rules.

Posted In
Government, Cabinet & Agencies
Washington Examiner
Phil Kerpen
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