Soros-ing The Internet Freedom Debate

Under the headline “UN Internet agenda tied to George Soros,” the Daily Caller's Josh Peterson writes this morning that he's discovered connections between the billionaire philanthropist and the campaign to promote internet freedom:

Frank La Rue, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression who made summer headlines when he proclaimed Internet access as a basic human right, conducted his research and delivered his conclusions with the support of organizations funded by liberal financier George Soros, The Daily Caller has learned.

La Rue's statements on Internet freedom caused alarm among conservatives who believe “net neutrality” is a vehicle for a government takeover of the Internet.

How did they Daily Caller learn of these links between Soros and La Rue? Simple: both La Rue and the Soros-linked organizations involved have been completely open and transparent about their relationship. Peterson writes:

At a speech in April 2011 at the Soros-funded Central European University (CEU) in Hungary, La Rue talked at length about global fact-finding missions -- sponsored by Soros's OSI and the Swedish government -- on which he had embarked during 2010 to assess how unrestricted Internet access could meet citizens' human rights needs.

He links to a YouTube video of La Rue's speech, in which La Rue says outright that the Open Society Institute supported the “series of regional consultations” on which he embarked. The description of the YouTube video says: “La Rue's talk was sponsored by CEU's Center for Media and Communications Studies and the Open Society Archive.” You can see the Open Society Archives logo plastered on the podium from which La Rue speaks. So... news?

Despite being openly acknowledged and freely advertised, the mere fact of Soros' involvement makes this “news” for the Daily Caller's conservative audience that is already predisposed to view Soros as a sort of a liberal Lex Luthor and will clutch for the pearls at any Soros connection, no matter how mundane, tangential, or -- as is often the case -- contrived. The point of this article, I suspect, is to simply invoke Soros' name and allow the prefabricated outrage to carry the story and boost page views.

And that suspicion is informed by the current splash page at the Daily Caller's website:

One thing we did learn from the Caller piece, however, is that Soros' detractors have a very low bar for criticism:

While Soros is known among supporters as an advocate of pro-democracy causes, critics see the Open Society Institute -- which he founded and chairs -- as his instrument for funding and supporting his preferred causes.

Soros uses the foundation he founded and chairs to promote the causes he believes in? Imagine that.

(Full disclosure and potential Daily Caller scoop: Media Matters has received money from Soros.)