February 21, 2013 1:51 PM

Don't Conflate the Mission of Free Press with Free Speech

One week ago, S. Derek Turner of Free Press was doing like he do--criticizing other parties for speech with which he disagrees, and presumably advocating the moral purity of single letters as first names--except that this time, he couldn't wait the 5 minutes or so that Free Press normally waits before doing something completely inconsistent.  No, this time Free Press tied it up in one neat little package for us.

Not wanting to waste such extreme courtesy (or poetic irony), the task of reporting this feat has fallen to moi.  Specifically, Mr. Turner released a statement calling AT&T out for a "missive" against the FCC that, Turner believes, was emblematic of AT&T's "penchant for bullying" which, he continues, is as "boundless as its hubris."

From what "bullying" by AT&T was Mr. Turner defending the FCC?  It turns out to be this blog post by Bob Quinn, speculating that if the FCC has a difficult time saying goodbye to "old-timey" regulations designed to protect the then-nascent telephone market from the depredations of the telegraph industry, then hopes were dim for the FCC to progressively regulate the unique issues that will arise as part of the transition from TDM-based networks to IP networks.   

I'm not surprised by AT&T's comment any more than I am by Free Press's disagreement with this comment.  But "bullying?"  Correct me if I'm getting the whole "bullying" thing backwards, but isn't the goal of bullying to intimidate someone to act differently than they would otherwise act?  I'm pretty sure that AT&T's blog post more accurately qualifies as "criticism."

"ToMAYtoe"/"toMAHtoe", right?  I mean how's a phone company to act if they don't like what the FCC is doing/failing to do you? Interestingly for AT&T, Free Press's guidance is linked at the bottom of the post. 

In its comments opposing AT&T's Petition for the FCC to start a proceeding to deal with issues involving the IP transition, Free Press points to the "right way" for AT&T to pursue a deregulatory goal, 

"it is perfectly appropriate for any incumbent carrier to assert its rights under Section 10 of the Act to seek forbearance from specific regulations, as has been done for the specific regulations AT&T names in its petition." At p.2

See, if AT&T had just supported forbearance, that's the way Congress told them the FCC would deregulate, then it would be OK.  Oh, wait, AT&T's blog post sounded like it was expressing support for the US Telecom Forbearance Petition that it believed the FCC could have granted in less than a year.  Message to AT&T from Free Press:  you suck!  With a capital S.!

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