On today's BradCast: Disturbing news for Americans and free speech before Christmas, but great news for huge corporations enjoying record profits already. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First up, yet another media mega-merger is announced as Disney says they will purchase much of Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in a $52 billion dollar deal, even as Trump and the Congressional GOP push to give them all huge tax breaks --- at the expense of the poor and middle class. Republicans are hoping for final passage of their tax bill before Christmas and before presumptive Sen.-elect Doug Jones (D-AL) can be seated and further reduce the GOP's slim U.S. Senate majority.
On the upside today, one of Trump's wildly inappropriate industry shills nominated to the EPA has reportedly withdrawn, as have two wholly unqualified nominees for lifetime judgeship appointments to the federal bench.
Then, as expected on Thursday, Trump's Republican-led Federal Communications Commission (FCC), voted 3 to 2 along party lines to kill "Net Neutrality" rules for Internet Service Providers like AT&T, Verizon, Charter and Comcast. That, despite a letter from 18 state Attorneys General who asked the Commission to delay the vote until after a legitimate public comment period. The previous one, they charge, was manipulated by as many as 2,000,000 comments that New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has found found to have been faked.
Nonetheless, right-wing FCC Commissioner and former Verizon attorney Ajit Pai did not delay the vote, and the Commission voted to kill the rules that had long prevented ISP's from blocking or slowing down certain websites or apps, or charging more for access to them. Longtime media reform activist SUE WILSON joins us today and describes the latest actions by the FCC as little more than a move toward the end of free speech on the Internet.
She argues that the move to kill Net Neutrality echoes the efforts to pass the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was also sold by proponents at the time as a boon for competition and innovation that would result in more free speech over our public airwaves. Instead, the public radio waves have become the nearly exclusive domain of corporate right-wing political speech and propaganda in the 20 years since the measure was signed by President Bill Clinton.
"They made a lot of promises, when they consolidated radio, that we would end up with a much more diverse speech for everybody," Wilson explains. "Anybody who listens to radio knows that it's almost impossible to find a show like The BradCast on the air because it is now dominated by pro-Republican, conservative --- no, 'alt-right' --- speech, to the exclusion of all others. They flat-out lied to us, and guess what? That's what they're doing today."
A similar future may soon be in store for the Internet, unless promised lawsuits or Congressional legislation is able to block or reverse today's shamefully under-reported and disturbing turn of events.
"The claim that the Federal Communications Commission Republicans are making is that we need to give more money to broadband services so that they can invest in rural areas," says Wilson. "However, if you look at the Securities and Exchange [Commission] documents, which these corporations have to fill out --- under penalty of prosecution if they lie --- the six CEOs of publicly-traded broadband companies are telling their investors that the FCC's current Net Neutrality rules have not in any way impacted their investment strategies. Again, we're looking at the Federal Communications Commission, as headed by Ajit Pai, just making things up out of whole cloth."
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with an update on the record and still-growing Southern California wildfires, more bad news about the Arctic, some good news for Tesla, and a worldwide embarrassment for the United States...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)