"The conference's organizer was
Free Press, a nonprofit that advocates for local
ownership of media, community and public broadcasting, and "Net neutrality,"
which prohibits telecom companies from charging individuals or companies to
provide superior Internet service."
-- Excerpted from "Fonda Wraps Up Media Conference," The Commercial Appeal,
January 15, 2007.
It would be easy enough to read Monday's Commercial Appeal
and walk away believing that The National Conferencefor Media Reform is all that's standing between you and a "
But according to just about everybody not currently
shilling for the telecom industry, nothing could be further from the truth.
In separate interviews with
last week Democratic FCC commissioners Michael Copps and Jonathan
Adelstein spoke at length on the issue of
Neither described it as a "prohibitive" measure, and Copps
specifically dismissed the notion that corporate interests have a "better
internet" in the wings as a kind of propaganda, reasoning that any
corporatization of the web will begin with the redistribution of available
bandwidth on a pay to play basis. Both commissioners described the
de-neutralized internet as something resembling cable TV, wherein service
providers like Comcast and Time Warner wield incredible control over both the
content and distribution of digital media. A de-neutralized net would allow
telecoms rather than consumers to determine which search engines work best;
which sites provide the best news,shopping, comics, porn, etc. It would almost
insure that smaller, less capitalized sites would be difficult, perhaps
impossible to access. Both commissioners more or less agree with National
Conference to Reform the Media founder Robert McChesney's assessment that ending
Net Neutrality is a Hail Mary play by big corporations who've clumsily chased
independent innovators on the web, and who now hope to set up a double-sided
"toll booth" on the great information superhighway.
Trevor Aaronson, a CA staff writer and
veteran of the New Times chain of
Alternative Weeklies, begins his account of the media reform conference on a
strangely familiar note: "Van Jones came home angry," he writes, correctly
debunking an impassioned, but unfortunately unfounded implication that Shelby
County prisons are on the verge of privatization. Why did Jones, who addressed
the assembled conferees on Sunday afternoon, carry so much post-ovation
animosity home with him? Aaronson never completely explains, though we are left
with the impression that it might have something to do with the misinformed
speaker's dislike of President Bush.
"Billed as a nonpartisan event, the conference looked at times like a farcical
political rally," Aaronson writes, shifting from reportage to editorial with the
naive assumption there are other kinds of political rallies. He then proceeds to
belittle a Latino activist's efforts to insure that language barriers don't
prevent immigrants and Spanish-speaking Americans from understanding the finer
points of public policy, before closing with a Parthian pot shot aimed at silly
ol' recycling bins.
There's no question that Van Jones' oratory was hotter than his research or that
the "nonpartisan" conference, which brought 3,500 people to Downtown Memphis,
and attracted an additional 60,000 online participants, often looked and sounded
like a full fledged leftist pep rally. As one attendee jokingly observed it had
to be, "The only place on Earth where Dennis Kucinich can get more applause than
Danny Glover." That does little to change the fact that media consolidation and
the elimination of Net Neutrality are relatively sophisticated issues that tend
to split based on stock portfolios rather than traditional
. Neither does it excuse the
CA's use of Jones's glaring mistake or the infinite mockability of the
"angry left" to spread and give legitimacy to its own glaring disinformation.