The Beastie Boys may have finished what the FCC started. One Beastie Boy, anyway. And Phil Kerpen of Americans For Prosperity is not happy about it.
First, the backstory. On February 10, the Securities and Exchange Commission informed AT&T that they would not be allowed to block shareholders from voting on a proposal requesting that the telecom giant commit to operating its wireless data network in accordance with net neutrality principles. That proposal was put forth by an asset management firm representing Michael Diamond, a.k.a. Mike D of the Beastie Boys, and other AT&T investors.
The SEC's ruling was significant because the net neutrality order passed by the FCC in December 2010 contained a huge carve-out for wireless broadband. Wireless providers were exempted from the "unreasonable discrimination" rule which prevents fixed broadband providers from discriminating against or favoring certain forms of content based on political or financial considerations. The FCC argued they needed to "better understand how the mobile broadband market is developing before determining whether adjustments to this framework are necessary."
In the past the SEC has allowed wireless carriers to block shareholder votes on net neutrality, agreeing with the companies that it was a matter of "day-to-day" business and thus outside shareholder oversight. In the February 10 letter, the SEC argued that net neutrality had become AT&T's "most significant public policy issue," owing to the many legislative and regulatory battles it has sparked over the past year, and is thus "appropriate for shareholder consideration."
Over the weekend, CBSNews.com ran an AP report on the bankruptcy of Ener1, whose subsidiary received contracts under the Bush administration and a grant under the Obama administration to manufacture batteries for electric cars. CBS added this paragraph and an accompanying video to the AP report:
A CBS News investigation found earlier this month that a dozen green-energy companies - which in total received at least $6.5 billion in stimulus money from the federal government - have filed for bankruptcy protection.
But the CBS "investigation" found no such thing. Earlier this month, CBS ran an error-ridden report by Sharyl Attkisson which purported to reveal 11 "New Solyndras." Attkisson said these clean energy companies were "having trouble" or had "filed for bankruptcy" after receiving a total of $6.5 billion in federal assistance (making no distinction between loan guarantees and grants.) The deeply flawed report has been eagerly repeated by conservative media; Bill O'Reilly managed to use it to falsely claim "We gave France 1.2 billion."
But CBS is counting companies that didn't even receive federal funds, companies that haven't actually gone bankrupt, and companies that have sold the government-backed projects to other firms. CBS hasn't even identified 4 of the 11 companies it claimed are endangering taxpayer money. And instead of issuing a correction, CBS is doubling down on this shoddy reporting in a way that recalls the editorial standards of Fox News.
Conservative media have misrepresented the results of Chevy Volt crash tests, claiming the batteries "blow up" and are a "fire trap," and suggesting that fires have occurred spontaneously during use. In fact, fires only occurred after crash tests and regulators concluded an inquiry after finding that Volts are just as safe as conventional cars.
Fox News' Eric Bolling falsely asserted that President Obama is "usurping Congress for more executive privilege" in seeking the authority to consolidate federal agencies. In fact, Obama is requesting this authority from Congress, and presidents from Franklin Roosevelt through Ronald Reagan had the same authority -- to fast-track congressional votes on executive-branch consolidation proposals from the president.
From the January 11 edition of Fox News The Five:
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In 1994, the Environmental Protection Agency established an Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, which disburses about $1 million in grants every year to non-profit organizations and Native American tribes in the disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by pollution. The grants help communities learn about and find solutions for local environmental and public health problems.
Following a Daily Caller report, Fox News repeatedly lambasted the program as "government waste" that "we can't afford." Fox's Tobin Smith even baselessly claimed that there is "hundreds of billions of dollars of waste" in "these things." In 2011, the grant program disbursed $1 million in funding - around .0000003% of federal expenditures. So for those trying to follow Fox's logic: We can't afford $1 million for local programs supporting environmental and public health, but if you try to reconsider $70 billion in tax cuts for the wealthy, it's "class warfare."
Fox predictably failed to mention that this grant program existed throughout the Bush administration. In highlighting several program successes, Bush's EPA described how a $15,000 grant helped an economically disadvantaged area in Michigan that is home to several Native American reservations collect over 47 tons of hazardous waste -- more than the county waste facility collected over the previous seven years.
From the January 7 edition of Fox News' Bulls & Bears:
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Since President Obama took office, the right-wing media have engaged in a smear campaign against Obama administration officials as well as people Obama has nominated for spots in the judiciary. This witch hunt has continued unabated in 2011.
In keeping with Fox News' war on the EPA, FoxNews.com is now suggesting that the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to better incorporate sustainability into its decision making is a power grab. In an "EXCLUSIVE" about a months-old report known as the Green Book, Fox News executive editor George Russell baselessly claims that the EPA is trying to become a "much, much more important - and powerful - federal agency than it is, even now."
But the chair of the committee that co-authored the report with the National Research Council (NRC) said that the report recommends the "absolute opposite" of a power grab. Professor Bernard Goldstein explained over the phone that the report actually recommends that the EPA set specific sustainability goals and hold itself accountable by measuring these goals as objectively and "transparently" as possible.
From the December 8 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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A Wall Street Journal editorial argued that the Obama administration should "kill" the proposed EPA rule limiting power plant emissions of mercury and other toxic air pollutants by misrepresenting a reliability analysis and making an apples-to-oranges cost/benefit comparison.
After incessant coverage of the failed solar panel maker Solyndra, major TV and print news outlets are now ignoring a report concluding that "the focus on Solyndra is not proportional to its impact." The Bloomberg Government analysis of the Department of Energy's 1705 loan guarantee program found that 87 percent of the portfolio is low-risk and that even if all 10 of the higher risk projects defaulted, we'd still have nearly half a billion dollars left in the fund set aside by Congress to cover losses.
Alison Williams - who previously served as a DOE analyst under both the Bush and Obama administrations - authored the report, which is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand the loan guarantee program that assisted Solyndra. According to a Nexis search, not a single major newspaper or television news outlet has reported on the analysis, which was covered by The Hill and the Huffington Post.
The main takeaway from the report is that 87 percent of the value of all the 1705 loan guarantees (18 of the 28 projects) went to power generation projects, as opposed to manufacturing projects like Solyndra's factory. The DOE required generation projects to secure a buyer before receiving a loan guarantee -- ensuring stable revenue and significantly reducing the risk of the investment. In fact, Shayle Kann, a solar power market expert at GTM Research, has said that these projects have almost no risk of default.
Last week, AT&T and the Federal Communications Commission had a bit of a falling out.
It all started when FCC chairman Julius Genachowski informed AT&T that the commission would recommend a judicial review of the wireless giant's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, citing concerns over anti-competitive effects and job losses. AT&T responded by withdrawing their merger request from the FCC in order to focus their attention on the Justice Department, which had already sued to block the deal. The FCC allowed the request to be withdrawn, but also released their own staff report on the proposed merger which detailed their concerns and the various "material questions of fact" left unanswered by the two telecom companies. AT&T fired back at the report, calling it biased and an "advocacy piece."
In short, AT&T -- known for getting its way around Washington -- has hit a regulatory wall. And this is unacceptable to L. Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal, who writes today (subscription required) that the FCC's actions are gross examples of "overregulation" and a lack of "regulatory humility."
We've long chronicled the right-wing media's problem with undertaking basic research before trying to smear progressives. Nonetheless, this one was a doozy.
Last week, we debunked the claim from three conservative bloggers that President Obama repeatedly met with a Department of Justice official "keenly aware" of the failed ATF operation Fast and Furious at "the height" of the operation. In fact, no evidence has been presented showing that the official was aware at the time of the controversial details of the program, and in any case, the meetings in question were actually White House visits to attend major events related to a visit by the Mexican President and the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.
As we pointed out, hundreds to thousands of people attended these supposed meetings, making it extremely unlikely that the DOJ official was using them to secretly brief the President. And as we noted, this information was easily available through the same White House Visitors Office records that the right-wing bloggers were using to drum up their conspiracy.
Yesterday, the Daily Caller attempted to identify just where those bloggers went wrong:
But on the dates in question, the logs specifically referred to formal arrivals and receptions related to a State Dinner for Mexican president Felipe Calderón. It's unclear whether the three writers noticed this feature of the visitor logs, since the spreadsheets' columns related to the purpose for the visits is hidden from view and only become visible when readers scroll a considerable distance to one side.
That's how pathetic even the Caller acknowledges the right-wing blogosphere must be: they are either too incompetent to "scroll a considerable distance to one side" in order to confirm their conspiracies before they run with them or they're simply uninterested in the truth.
For their part, the Caller was also apparently unable to pull off the scrolling trick on their own. Instead, after reading the claims of right-wing bloggers, they contacted the White House directly, who pointed them to our post. It remains to be seen whether the Caller has learned not to take such sources seriously in the future.
In a hard-hitting* interview with Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Newsbusters' Noel Sheppard opened by asking:
Well, I'm sure you saw EPA chief Lisa Jackson was named Energy Policy Maker of the Year by Politico last night. And I quote, "The EPA chief has been a forceful advocate on environmental issues and has held the line against intense Republican attacks on her agency." Is this kind of like Time picking Hitler or Khomeini as Man of the Year - whoever had the most impact whether for good or ill?
Later, Sheppard alleged that Jackson is "trying to set policy without oversight by the legislature" based on the "anthropogenic global warming myth."
In fact, it was the Supreme Court that ruled that the EPA is required to regulate greenhouse gases under the bipartisan Clean Air Act unless it "it determines that greenhouse gases do not contribute to climate change" or "provides some reasonable explanation as to why it cannot or will not exercise its discretion to determine whether they do." Following extensive review of peer-reviewed scientific literature, which overwhelmingly concludes that global warming is caused by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases, the EPA found that greenhouse gases classify as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.