Channelling Alex Jones
Pai instead dropped Republican talking points and conspiracy theories that he must know to be inaccurate.
Having attacked the cofounder of Free Speech, he argued that he was symbolic of a larger problem.
It is all-too typical of a larger movement in our country today that is fundamentally hostile to free speech. We see it in efforts to banish those who express unpopular views online. We see it when speakers are barred from college campuses, violently of late. We see it when university bureaucrats use Orwellian phrases like wanting 'to continue empowering a culture of controversy prevention.' And we see it when members of the Federal Election Commission seek to restrict political speech and regulate online platforms like the Drudge Report.
This sort of partisan ranting should have no place at the FCC, especially not from its chair.
But it is almost guaranteed to fire up those on both sides of the debate to the point where it is impossible to divine a reasoned route through the middle – which until recently was always the goal of policy processes.
As to what should be the end result of this re-review of internet providers under federal law, the real answer is actually quite simple.
There should be a clear separation between providing internet access and supplying internet content. Just because AT&T, Time Warner and Comcast sit on both sides of the fence does not mean that it is impossible or even advisable to ignore the enormous difference between supplying access to the global network and the content that you receive over it.
Just because there is money to be made in controlling what comes through that entry point does not mean that people should be obliged to accept it.
But opponents to Title II are correct when they argue that the old regulations are not the best way to make that split. Those rules are developed for outdated technology in a different world. They are too focused on reports and controls. And so they should be rewritten, by Congress, looking forward to the future.
What Pai's plan does however, sadly, is force the issue of the internet into the destructive circular world of partisan politics, where all the energy is spent beating the other side rather than working on a better solution together.
And when Pai is gone and the Democrats are inevitably back in charge at the FCC, what then? Another proposal all over again to reassert Title II?
Pai made big play about how his plan was good for America: for innovation, for jobs, for internet access – which all sounded like campaign trail promises rather than objective assessment.
The truth is that what's good for America is to get the internet as far as possible away from politics to be built on without being interfered with. Today's announcement has made that impossible while Ajit Pai is in charge. ®