In noting President Obama's opposition to a Republican-promoted House bill allowing more skilled workers into the U.S., Wall Street Journal columnist Gordon Crovitz failed to mention the reason for Obama's opposition: The House bill eliminates a visa program for immigrants from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S., and is too "narrowly tailored" to achieve Obama's goal of comprehensive immigration reform.
Last year, the regulatory agencies charged with overseeing the wireless communications market did something unusual: they actually regulated. After spending the Bush years eagerly facilitating the consolidation of the wireless market, in 2011 the FCC and the Justice Department blocked AT&T from merging with T-Mobile over fears that the deal would be anti-competitive and result in job losses. At the time, conservatives in the media decried this move as gross overregulation of a burgeoning market that would dampen investment and stifle technological development. But here we are almost one year out, and those dire prognostications haven't played out. In fact, quite the opposite has happened.
First, the doomsaying. As the merger neared the bottom of its death spiral in early December 2011, the Wall Street Journal's L. Gordon Crovitz complained of the "risks of overregulation" and declared that this new era of technological wonders "requires more regulatory humility." According to Crovitz: "So long as regulators apply rules for mature industries to new technologies, we will have problems such as spectrum scarcity and industries kept artificially inefficient. Until regulators change their ways, blame a meddling FCC when calls get dropped on your mobile phone."
After the merger officially went kaput a couple of weeks later, the Journal editorial board weighed in, calling the regulatory roadblock "top-down economic tinkering" and coughing up the same dropped-call imagery as Crovitz: "The next time your cellphone is slow or your call is dropped, don't blame AT&T. Point the phone at Washington."
So what's happened since then? Well, when the AT&T/T-Mobile merger was first announced, T-Mobile's parent company, Deutsche Telekom, was looking to wash its hands of the U.S. market. But after the merger fell through and AT&T was obligated to fork over $3 billion to T-Mobile along with a sizeable chunk of wireless spectrum, T-Mobile took the money and invested it almost immediately in network modernization. Now Deutsche Telekom -- once eager to be done with the U.S. -- is moving to acquire low-cost carrier Metro PCS to build out T-Mobile's high-speed 4G LTE network.
Wall Street Journal columnist Gordon Crovitz is being raked over the coals by countless tech writers, experts, and his own sources for a piece he wrote this week arguing that the government wasn't involved in the creation of the internet. (It was, according to the people who actually helped create the internet.) Though Crovitz's arguments have dissolved under scrutiny, the column's central premise has predictably been adopted by conservatives that either don't know or don't care that it is wildly wrong. First it was Rush Limbaugh, then Fox News, and now Karl Rove.
Rove appeared on Fox & Friends this morning to attack President Obama with lies and distortions, thus fulfilling the requirements of his dual-role as a Fox News political analyst and head of a GOP Super PAC. According to Rove, Obama displayed "hostility to private enterprise" by crediting government research for the creation of the internet. Rove declared Obama "wrong" on the history, citing Crovitz's "brilliant" WSJ column as evidence:
It's been four days now since the Wall Street Journal published Gordon Crovitz's column arguing that the government was not involved in the creation of the Internet. In that time, many of the sources Crovitz cited in that column -- the people who worked with the government to create the Internet or later reported on that effort -- have stated flatly that Crovitz's assertion was wrong. But thus far there's been nary a peep from the paper or from Crovitz. So what will it take for Crovitz and the Journal to correct, or at least acknowledge, the column's inaccuracies?
Let's run down the people Crovitz cited, and their subsequent reactions to his thesis.
If the government didn't invent the Internet, who did? Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet's backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks.
I would happily fertilize my tomatoes with Crovitz' assertion.
Salon's Alex Pareene made a good observation yesterday about the future of Wall Street Journal opinion-slinger Gordon Crovitz's 100-percent incorrect claim that government was not involved in the creation of the internet:
I am very confident that "The Government Had Nothing To Do With Inventing The Internet That Is a Liberal Lie" will become one of those wonderful myths that all true-believer conservatives subscribe to, like "FDR and the New Deal made the Depression worse" and "Reagan Was a Good President."
It's true; the conservative canon is littered with verifiably false claims masquerading as unshakeable truths -- in some cases, as foundational principles. Other examples include "global warming is a hoax" and "tax cuts increase revenue." Most of them have been around for so long that their origins are murky, but we have the benefit of being able to observe this particular untruth move through the conservative ecosystem. It's sort of like watching evolution happen! (If evolution were real and not another hoax, that is.)
The Wall Street Journal's Gordon Crovitz jumped on the "you didn't build that" distortion bandwagon yesterday, attacking President Obama for citing the "government research" that "created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet." To rebut the president, Crovitz offered a lengthy response to a point Obama never made, made a wealth of assertions that (according to his own sources) were wrong, and in the end actually ended up proving the point the president did make: that government-funded projects contribute to success in private enterprise.
First, let's take a look at what Obama said:
OBAMA: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don't do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.
Now here's Crovitz's take on Obama's (selectively edited) comments:
A telling moment in the presidential race came recently when Barack Obama said: "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." He justified elevating bureaucrats over entrepreneurs by referring to bridges and roads, adding: "The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet."
It's an urban legend that the government launched the Internet. The myth is that the Pentagon created the Internet to keep its communications lines up even in a nuclear strike. The truth is a more interesting story about how innovation happens--and about how hard it is to build successful technology companies even once the government gets out of the way.
It's a myth! And had Obama said that "the government launched the Internet," he would have been guilty of propagating that myth. Fortunately, he didn't say that. Nonetheless, Crovitz took it upon himself to correct the president on who "invented" the internet -- Xerox, not the government:
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."
Numerous media outlets seized on a dubious January London Sunday Times report which claimed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2007 statement on Amazon rain forests was "unsubstantiated" and without scientific basis in order to attack the IPCC's credibility and global warming science in general. However, The Sunday Times has now retracted that claim, noting, "In fact, the IPCC's Amazon statement is supported by peer-reviewed scientific evidence." Will these media outlets follow suit?
L. Gordon Crovitz falsely claimed in a Wall Street Journal column that Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, told BBC that "there was more warming in the medieval period, before today's allegedly man-made effects," when in fact Jones said the available data does not establish this claim. Moreover, Crovitz falsely claimed that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "has backed away from" its 2007 statement that up to 40 percent of the Amazonian rainforests are highly sensitive to reductions in rainfall; in fact, IPCC stands by the statement, which is supported by peer-reviewed science despite the incomplete citation in the IPCC report.