Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Trump's Secret Weapon against a Free Press

Originally published at BillMoyers.com

Journalists in Manila had very little time to cover Monday’s meeting between President Donald Trump and his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte. But it was enough to witness one aspect of the budding bromance between these two world leaders.


As soon as journalists began asking questions about Duterte’s deplorable human-rights record, security shooed them from the room. Duterte pointed at the departing reporters and said, “Guys, you are the spies.” This elicited a laugh from President Trump, who feels a kinship with anyone who opposes a truth-seeking press.

According to Human Rights Watch, at least 177 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1986, making it one of the deadliest countries to be a reporter. Of these, nearly half were targeted for their coverage of politics, corruption, crime and human rights, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Block the AT&T-Time Warner Deal — But Not Because Trump Hates CNN

AT&T’s plan to take over Time Warner has hit a snag at the Justice Department.
According to press reports, top DoJ officials have told AT&T executives that they may need to divest Time Warner’s Turner Networks — including CNN — for the regulator to approve AT&T’s multibillion-dollar acquisition of the media giant.
Some of those reports also suggest that dumping DIRECTV, AT&T’s recently acquired satellite pay-TV platform, might also be a route to approval.
Still, speculation is rife that the DoJ is putting the brakes on the merger at the behest of President Trump, a fierce critic of CNN, which has pulled few punches in covering his administration.
In 2016, Trump made a campaign pledge to reject the AT&T deal if elected president. “It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said in a speech just two weeks before the general election.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Breaking ideological gridlock from the bottom up

Originally published at OpenDemocracy.net On a cold Thursday morning in January, a small group of advocates gathered outside the imposing edifice of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C. They opened the trunk of a red Ford Fusion parked nearby and began unloading more than 20 white banker’s boxes. Within minutes, they had assembled a makeshift cardboard podium. Inside the boxes were more than a million signatures collected in just two weeks from people across the country. Each person had signed an online petition urging the FCC to protect Net Neutrality, the democratic principle that ensures the internet remains free and open and prohibits the companies that control high-speed internet access from blocking or throttling content.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Five Reasons to Fire FCC Chairman Pai

Originally Published at Huffington Post

The Senate majority is charging forward with plans to vote to reconfirm Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai for another five years. Rehiring Pai to head the agency that oversees U.S. communications policies would be a boon for the phone and cable companies he eagerly serves. But it would hurt everyone else who needs this agency to put our communications rights before the profits of monopoly-minded media giants.

Usually nominations to agencies like the FCC sail through without a dissenting vote. But based on the last five years he spent at the agency (and his past eight months as designated chairman), it’s clear Pai doesn’t deserve another term.

That’s why Free Press Action Fund is urging the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee and why thousands of people are calling Capitol Hill before the vote — expected as soon as Monday — and asking their senators to fire Pai.

And for good reason.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Trump’s War on the First Amendment Finds Supporters at the FCC

Donald Trump’s war against a free press has extended into “the cyber,” where his followers at the Federal Communications Commission are intent on unwinding a vitally important free-speech protection that internet users won after years of organizing and effort.

To make matters worse, the Trump FCC is carrying out its quest to kill Net Neutrality in a distinctly undemocratic way — including banning some activists from ever attending the agency’s public meetings for the alleged infraction of demonstrating their support for open-internet protections. And that’s just one in a growing number of incidents in which the FCC has cracked down on the rights of people who support Net Neutrality.

During the monthly FCC meetings that have occurred since Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai took office, agency staff and security have denied the First Amendment freedoms of people and reporters attending the events, which are supposed to be open to the public. Pai’s agency has also violated protesters’ due-process rights.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Six Things Trump’s FCC Chair Doesn’t Want You to Know About Net Neutrality

Originally published at BillMoyers.com

For Net Neutrality supporters the last week felt like déjà vu.

Under its Trump-anointed chairman, Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission decided last Thursday to revisit its Net Neutrality ruling.

The agency reopened a docket for public comments on Pai’s proposal to undermine the safeguards needed to prevent internet service providers from blocking, throttling or de-prioritizing the online content people want to see.

The last time the agency did this, in 2014 and 2015, it unleashed a torrent of public comments in support of the idea that the open internet should have basic protections under the law. Four million people voiced their concerns via the agency’s beleaguered website. The vast majority of these comments supported meaningful Net Neutrality protections.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Trump's FCC and FTC Chairs Rush in to Defend Big Telco's Assault on Internet Privacy

It’s hard to defend legislation that undermines internet users’ essential privacy rights. But that hasn’t stopped the broadband industry and its many friends in Washington from trying.

Even amid widespread bipartisan outrage against the congressional resolution Trump signed this week — which rolled back online privacy protections the Obama FCC created in 2016 — Beltway Republicans want you to believe it’s a good idea to let AT&T, Comcast and Verizon follow your every move online.

Chief among industry apologists is Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who alongside Federal Trade Commission Acting Chair Maureen Ohlhausen penned a mistake-riddled Op-Ed for the Washington Post on Wednesday. They claimed the resolution that struck down strong FCC protections somehow didn’t do just that.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The President's Attack on Public Broadcasting Puts Him at Odds with the American People

Donald Trump’s latest attack on the media will unfold in an unusual place: congressional hearings over the national budget.

On Thursday, the president proposed eliminating all federal funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a main revenue source for hundreds of local NPR and PBS stations across the country.

The cuts, part of Trump’s first federal budget proposal to Congress, would zero out the $445 million annual allocation the CPB receives to underwrite popular programming like Democracy Now!, Fresh Air, Frontline and the PBS Kids lineup, and help keep local public television and radio stations on the air.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Decoding the Doublespeak of Chairman Pai


Originally published by The American Prospect
Donald Trump’s new Federal Communications Commission chairman is taking direct aim at fair and affordable internet access.


Michael Flynn, Kellyanne Conway and Stephen Miller aren’t the only Donald Trump surrogates who’ve had a very bad couple of weeks.

Ajit Pai, the president’s pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, was pilloried by the New York Times and Washington Post editorial boards last week after his agency released a rapid-fire series of rulings in a move that resembled Trump’s rush of executive orders. Chairman Pai’s directives, which he issued with zero public input, undermine the open internet and undercut the agency’s Lifeline program, which is designed to make the internet more affordable for families with low incomes.

Pai’s attack on Lifeline drew a swift response. A series of letters from dozens of Democrats on Capitol Hill asserted that Pai’s move to prevent nine internet service providers (ISPs) from serving Lifeline participants was “unfairly punishing” families in need.

Pai managed to draw criticism on the same Sunday from two of the nation’s most prominent and influential newspapers, even as members of Congress piled on. But the condemnation is justified: Pai has long served the interests of massive phone and cable companies, while shafting those ordinary Americans of whom Trump claims to be so fond.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Are Police Biased Against Independent Journalists?

On Inauguration Day, police arrested six journalists who were covering protests in Washington, D.C. The reporters were hauled before Superior Court judges and each charged with felony counts of “inciting to riot” and cause bodily harm, a crime punishable up to a maximum of 10 years in jail and fines of up to $25,000.

Those arrested were Aaron Cantu, a freelance journalist who’s written for Al Jazeera; Evan Engel, a senior producer at the news website Vocativ; Matthew Hopard, an independent journalist and livestreamer; Shay Horse, an independent photojournalist; Jack Keller, a producer for the web documentary series Story of America; and Alex Rubinstein, a reporter with RT America.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Five Years Later, SOPA and PIPA Serve as a Warning to the Trump Administration

Photo: Andrew Dallos (via Flickr)
As Washington readies for a leadership transition, its resident politicians are more bitterly divided than ever.

Nearly 60 Democratic lawmakers have announced their plans to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration in the wake of his attacks on civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis. Meanwhile, congressional Republicans are ignoring the ethics rulebook to rush approval of Trump’s cabinet picks. The sooner his team is seated, the sooner they can start trying to dismantle President Obama’s legacy.

Some still talk about bipartisanship — or finding common cause with political foes — as the mark of good statesmanship. But that spirit is practically extinct in Washington. The incoming administration is behaving as though it can attend to the people’s business without actually consulting with people, or considering any opposing view.

There’s a lesson in the recent past that serves as a reminder for the ways in which people can transcend these politics of division.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fighting for Techdirt and All Independent Media

Anyone who’s followed Techdirt’s reporting and analysis over the years knows how vital this news outlet has been when it comes to clearing the fog that often clouds policy debates about Net Neutrality, broadband access, spectrum allocation, copyright reform and media ownership.

Founder Mike Masnick’s incisive reporting and commentary during the fight against the SOPA and PIPA legislation — which would have allowed the film and recording industries to black out huge tracts of internet content without due process — undercut Hollywood’s bogus claims in support of these bad bills.


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

A Chance to Reinvent Local Media and Combat Fake News

Most voting-age Americans list local news as a primary source for political information — an important statistic in a year when more than 125 million of us voted in a presidential race where honesty was in short supply while fake news ran rampant on social media.

Often our ability to separate fact from fiction about competing candidates rests on what we learn about them from credible news sources. If you’re like many voters, you found answers in your local news — be it the paper that arrives on your front step each day, the radio station you listen to during morning commutes or the 11 p.m. newscast before you tuck in for the night.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Filling the Swamp: Trump's Plan to Turn Over the FCC to Telecom Industry Insiders

One of Donald Trump's top tech policy advisers has a plan: Do away with the main agency that protects the rights of internet users and media consumers in America.

You heard that right. Mark Jamison, who Trump chose to help oversee the tech-policy transition team, thinks that getting rid of the Federal Communications Commission would be a good thing for this country.

"Most of the original motivations for having an FCC have gone away," Jamison wrote last month, claiming that a heavily consolidated media marketplace would discipline itself to benefit ordinary people.

He's dead wrong.