Trumpist Media Ignores Struggle Over Net Neutrality
Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.
Today, senators voted on a resolution to undo a 2017 move by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to end net neutrality regulations, but major television and print media outlets have devoted little more than a few mentions to the issue.
This dearth of coverage may stem in part from the distraction of President Donald Trump, as since his election, media outlets have been laser-focused on his statements and actions. Several significant Trump–related stories did break today, but it’s nonetheless obvious that media outlets have done little to address their Trump obsession and prioritize the many other issues that matter to Americans.
Net neutrality requires internet service providers (ISPs) like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon to give their users equal access to all internet content. Upending these rules means that, for a fee, ISPs can prioritize certain websites, allowing them to load more quickly on their users’ devices, and slow down or even block other sites. As Wired’s Klint Finley explained, “Well-established services from deep-pocketed companies like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft will likely remain widely available. But net-neutrality advocates argue that smaller companies that don’t have the money to pay for fast lanes could suffer. In other words, protecting net neutrality isn’t about saving Netflix but about saving the next Netflix.”
The FCC, led by Trump-nominated Ajit Pai, decided last year to end net neutrality rules in a move that voters across the political spectrum largely opposed. Leading up to the FCC’s vote, though, many media outlets were shockingly silent on the repercussions of upending consumer protections on internet access.
As Democratic senators made a last-ditch effort to salvage net neutrality rules — which passed in the Senate — coverage by many media outlets is still nowhere to be found.
Today on national cable news, MSNBC Live with Stephanie Ruhle and Fox Business’ FBN AM mentioned the net neutrality vote in brief headline segments. Fox News aired two segments on The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino and Shepard Smith Reporting, and CNN has not mentioned the vote at all.
Fox Business and One American News Network, a decidedly pro-Trump outlet known for pushing conspiracy theories, aired full reports of the net neutrality vote. Both of the reports recited Chairman Pai’s debunked talking point that the deregulation will encourage investment in broadband infrastructure and disparaged Democrats for insisting upon the vote at all.
Additionally, a Nexis search for “net neutrality” produced zero results among the nation’s top newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Post, and USA Today.
Header image by Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters