Network news has all but ignored the GOP scheme to censor the internet


The FCC’s attack on net neutrality is a major political story. But network news outlets have spent less than three minutes on the topic.

The push by Federal Communications Commission chair and former Verizon lawyer Ajit Pai to fully repeal net neutrality rules could lead to telecom corporations throttling or censoring content on the internet.

The move by Pai, who was appointed to chair the FCC by Donald Trump, has been met with outrage from both the public and hundreds of online businesses.

But the story has attracted almost no attention on network news outlets.

According to Media Matters for America, the big three broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — have devoted less than three minutes of coverage to net neutrality since Pai’s announcement.

Cable networks like CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC have given slightly more attention to the issue, but even they devoted barely over a combined hour of coverage, Media Matters noted.

Elimination of net neutrality is the latest of several dangerous schemes put forward by Pai and his GOP majority on the FCC, including a troubling plan to let the Trump propaganda behemoth Sinclair Broadcast Group buy as many local stations as it wants, and another to dismantle a decades-old program giving discounted phone and internet service to the poor.

The idea that a proposal to massively roll back the rights of consumers and businesses online would receive this little time on national television is disturbing — especially since the FCC continues to obstruct New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into over a million fraudulent public comments submitted to the FCC on the proposal.

ACLU senior policy analyst Jay Stanley expressed surprise about the lack of attention. "Considering the enormous role that the Internet plays in people’s lives and in our nation’s economy today," he said in a statement to Shareblue Media, "the radical new path that Ajit Pai is proposing to travel should be ringing alarm bells across America — including in newsrooms."

Journalists rely on the internet as much as they rely on broadcast media, and thus they ought to take the threat of online rights more seriously, and fulfill their duty to ensure proper public scrutiny.