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Video: Free Press policy chief responds to former FCC Chairman Powell

Ben Scott, the policy director of Free Press, responds to a Q&A with former FCC chairman Michael K. Powell, former FCC chairman. In this interview, Scott disagrees on many points with Powell. First of all, he says that converting oversight of broadband services to the model used for other telecommunications services would not be as hard as it seems. It's not about regulating the Internet, he says. Rather, it's about regulating the fixed wires that provide access to the Web. Above all, Scott worries that without reclassifying broadband, the agency won't be able to accomplish its biggest objective: bringing affordable high-speed Internet access to all Americans within a decade.

By Cecilia Kang  |  April 13, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  AT&T , Broadband , Comcast , Consumers , FCC , Google , Net Neutrality , Verizon  
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This is the second week in a row that Ms. Kang has made a posting giving center stage -- with no critical analysis -- to a Google lobbyist. Ben Scott's group Free Press pretends to be a "public interest" group, but in fact deviates not a micron from the corporate agenda of Google and constantly lobbies for Google's interests in DC. Free Press won't reveal its funding sources (interesting for a group which claims to favor "transparency"), but Google is deeply involved in foundations which say that they give money to Free Press; in fact, its executives hold administrative positions at those foundations.

So, what we see here is a reporter with conflicts of interest (Google advertising provides a substantial portion of her paycheck) and a consistent bias toward a particular corporation lobbying in print for that corporations' interests and giving its other lobbyists free space in the Post.

P.S. -- I anticipate that, within a few hours, either Ms. Kang or a confederate will likely post a comment accusing me of being everything from a violent psychotic to a child molester for being a good citizen and daring to point out Ms. Kang's obviously biased coverage. Alas, this seems to be the standard level of discourse for corporate lobbyists nowadays. It's a shame.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | April 13, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Do you really and honestly think what has happened over the past 7 years in the ISP industry was good for the industry? Thousands of ISPs out of business because of no access to broadband. Over a hundred thousand jobs lost?
So who's payroll are you really on?

Posted by: rfceo | April 13, 2010 2:22 PM | Report abuse


Long time reader, first time commenter. I too hate the socialist pigs at Free Press for their blatant attempts to force small ISPs like yourself to carry smut, pornography, and liberal maxists socialist websites like the I'm so thankful you've stood up with us fellow tea partiers and blocked those sites.

But I have one question for you. I tried to tie Free Press to Google money, but found nothing. The Wall Street Journal did a story a while back on this, and their reporter got to look at Free Press' un-redacted donor lists (as you know, by law they have to be redacted on their 990s), and they found no corporate support.

Also, what do you make of this recent post from Free Press on that liberal Rag Huffington Post, that says quite clearly that Google is "evil." That seems to deviate from Google's likely public position that they are not evil.

I'm thinking now that Free Press might be clean on the money side, but still evil and satanic crypto-marxofacists on their beliefs for an "open internet" (doublespeak, LOL!!)

Posted by: Darcelle_Jones | April 13, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Darcelle_Jones: There is no law that prohibits any nonprofit from publishing the identities of its donors or its complete IRS Form 990. Honest ones do.

Free Press, on the other hand, appears to take great pains to hide its corporate ties. It claims never to have accepted money from corporations, but in fact has taken money from at least one: Working Assets (a telecommunications company!). So, that claim is clearly false.

Free Press also gets lots of money from corporate foundations, including the Ford Foundation (endowed with Ford corporate money) and the Knight Foundation (endowed with money from the Knight-Ridder newspaper empire). The latter foundation has at least one Google executive in an important post, situated so as to be able to steer money to Free Press.

What's more, because it won't come clean as to the identities of its funders, we don't know whether Free Press is receiving "personal" contributions from Google employees (a common method used to hide contributions and/or circumvent statutory limits on campaign contributions; it's also used by unscrupulous nonprofits).

The picture is also obscured by the fact that Free Press is not just one corporation, but two. It operates as a 501(c)(3) corporation plus a "shadow" 501(c)(4); the two have interlocking directorates. It appears to be doing this in an attempt to circumvent IRS restrictions on lobbying by tax-exempt organizations.

There may be more links to uncover, and I am not an investigative journalist; I'm an ISP. But what we do know for sure is that Free Press tracks Google's corporate agenda like a weather vane. This cannot be a coincidence.

rfceo: Yes, a fair number of independent ISPs have gone under (though there are still at least 4,000 hanging on). This is largely the result of the FCC's failure to act on a different issue: "special access," a docket which has been open since 2005 with no action by the Commission. Sadly, due to lobbying by Google the Commission has fast-tracked "network neutrality" regulations, which would likely be the last straw for independent ISPs, but has put "special access" on the back burner. (Its recently announced agenda says that it may get around to considering it toward the end of the year.) In short, while its own Broadband Plan emphasizes competition, the Commission's unnecessary move to address problems that don't exist, and failure to act on ones that do, have created the perfect storm for competitors. If the Commission doesn't get its priorities straight, few competitors may be left standing.

Posted by: LBrettGlass | April 13, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Those changes were made by the FCC under Michael Powell. One might point out that he now is co-chair of . Who now co-chairs, Broadband For America, a front group for the major telecoms and cablecos, AT&T, Verizon, Qwest, Comcast, Charter, Bright house, Cox and others. There list of members also includes other so called public interest groups, some that joined after they disbanded.

Posted by: rfceo | April 13, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Great analysis Brett! I'm sure those facists marxist communists affirmative action loving hippies over at free press are shaking now that you are on their trail! It's amazing you've come up with so much that the WSJ could not come up with even after they got a look at the unredacted donor lists (I guess that means the WSJ is shilling for Google now too!)

I'm so glad you pointed out that Free Press is also shilling for Ford Motor Company too, because they take Ford Foundation money, though I guess that endowment was funded in the 1930's).

Though I am curious what you think about this Free Press article where they call Google "evil." I pointed that out on another thread, and I had no response for it. But I"m convinced it's just a double-psych-out faker move by those baby rapists over at Free Press! Kind of like how free press is for "reclassification" and how Google isn't (must be another fake out!)

And finally, one thing for you. I used to work for a conservative non-profit, which also had a 501c(4). It's pretty common in the non-profit world, and we had to follow rules to keep separate books and funding streams. Nothing shadowy about the practice. Also, you are wrong about the 990 redaction thing, because we had to follow the same rules.

Brett, keep up the great work! You are a true honor to have fighting for those of us oppressed by the community activist east coast elite liberal facists. We are the Tea Party and we will take our country back together from all these communist slanted hip-hop Phish-listening gun-stealing haters of our Freedoms!

Posted by: Darcelle_Jones | April 13, 2010 6:04 PM | Report abuse

rfceo: Powell's FCC did not make any changes. The Kennard FCC, under Bill Clinton, reported to Congress in 1998 that Internet service did not fit the mold of Title II and should not be classified as a Title II service. Under Michael Powell (a Clinton appointee) in 2005 and 2006, it UNANIMOUSLY reaffirmed this decision -- yes, both Democratic commissioners voted in favor. Thus, Internet service has never been classified under Title II.

Darcelle_Jones: Your nutty rhetoric is refreshing. Have you ever considered getting a talk show on which you could compete with Beck or Limbaugh?

Posted by: LBrettGlass | April 13, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

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