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Following Kerpen’s Lead Again, Beck Claims That Net Neutrality Is An Attack On Freedom Of Speech

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"Following Kerpen’s Lead Again, Beck Claims That Net Neutrality Is An Attack On Freedom Of Speech"

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In September, ThinkProgress dissected how Glenn Beck’s successful character assassination campaign against former White House environmental adviser Van Jones was fueled by Americans for Prosperity’s Phil Kerpen, who had taken credit for notifying Beck of some of Jones’ past comments. On his Fox News show yesterday, Beck followed Kerpen’s lead once again, this time in an assault on net neutrality.

In a segment featuring Kerpen last night, Beck warned his audience that the Obama administration “just might be trying to take over the media.” “This is a big week, isn’t it, for freedom of speech?” Beck asked Kerpen, who said that it was because “the FCC on Thursday is going to decide what the future of the Internet looks like”:

KERPEN: It is a very big week because the FCC on Thursday is going to decide what the future of the Internet looks like, if it looks much like the past 10 years where you have private competition and pretty much people can do what they want on the Internet or whether we have a much, much heavier government hand. And they’re going to take the first step on that Thursday.

BECK: OK. I want to start just real quick – Net neutrality, because it happens on Thursday. This is that everybody should have free Internet, right?

KERPEN: Well, essentially. You know, they dress it up the way they dress up a lot of their things. They turn it upside-down by saying that evil corporations, phone and cable corporations are going to block what we can do block or we can say.

Beck then used net neutrality as a jumping off point to outline how he believed the Obama administration was trying to shut down freedom of speech. “You have a freedom of speech or the government. You can’t really have both,” said Beck. Watch it:

When he introduced Kerpen, Beck described him as “the chairman of Internet Freedom Coalition,” an alliance of conservative groups that opposes all taxes and regulations related to the internet. Kerpen’s group released a Beck-like conspiracy chart today that attempts to expose the so-called “Obama Information Control Hierarchy.” Hours before Kerpen appeared on Beck’s show, he pushed the idea that net neutrality is a threat to freedom of speech in his daily podcast, warning that regulation would lead to “a government-owned and controlled network” and eventual “content restriction” that would “decide that certain speech is out of bounds.”

Beck also appears to have no idea what net neutrality actually means. Science Progress aptly explained it last year:

At the most basic level, net neutrality is the principle that Internet users should be in control of what content they view and what applications they use on the Internet; all content on the Internet is equally accessible, and once a person pays for access to the Internet, they alone get to choose how they use it. This means that providers should not be allowed to block access to certain sites or applications, or charge different customers different amounts for services.

Kerpen, from whom Beck apparently cribbed his understanding of the concept, claims that there is no reason to be concerned about internet service providers blocking access or charging customers differenty. “Proponents of net neutrality rely on the scare tactic that big bad cable and phone companies will block access to Web sites and cause other mischief unless the benevolent federal government rides to the rescue, and soon,” wrote Kerpen on FoxNews.com earlier this month. “But they’ve been ringing this alarm for the better part of a decade and none of the horrors they warn us about have happened.” In fact, in 2007 it was revealed that Comcast had disrupted peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic on its network, leading to an FCC investigation. There was also an incident where “Verizon Wireless denied Naral Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group, access when the group asked to the carrier to allow Verizon customers to sign up for text-messaging alerts.”

Transcript:

BECK: You know, America, I have to tell you, I said at the beginning, how many more wakeup calls are we going to receive? How many? I think we have had wakeup call after wakeup call after wakeup call. The administration, I believe, just might be trying to take over the media.

Phil Kerpen is the policy director for Americans for prosperity and the chairman of Internet Freedom Coalition. This is a big week, isn’t it, for freedom of speech?

PHIL KERPEN, POLICY DIRECTOR, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: It is a very big week because the FCC on Thursday is going to decide what the future of the Internet looks like, if it looks much like the past 10 years where you have private competition and pretty much people can do what they want on the Internet or whether we have a much, much heavier government hand. And they’re going to take the first step on that Thursday.

BECK: OK. I want to start just real quick – Net neutrality, because it happens on Thursday. This is that everybody should have free Internet, right?

KERPEN: Well, essentially. You know, they dress it up the way they dress up a lot of their things. They turn it upside-down by saying that evil corporations, phone and cable corporations are going to block what we can do block or we can say.

BECK: Correct.

KERPEN: And the government must save us by stepping in and regulating it.

BECK: Right. OK. And everybody should have it. I don’t remember anybody saying in the 1930s that everybody had a right to radio and we gave away free radios for the government.

And I don’t remember anybody in the ’50s everybody deserved a free television, but that’s where we’re headed now. So that neutrality – I want to get to that later on in the week.

But here it is – freedom of speech. You have a freedom of speech or the government. You can’t really have both. Now, I was looking at all the things that they’re doing here. FOX – and help me out where I’m going awry. They’re going after FOX because we’re the only ones that are speaking out a bit against this.

They’re coming also after me because I’m just not thinking right, I’m a danger. And this is really all about profit. That’s all this is. We couldn’t possibly believe it. It’s about profit. We’re dangerous, and we just – we don’t understand.

Newspapers, however, are right thinking. They get it. They’re helpful, but they don’t have any money. So what does the government want to do? They want to bail these guys out, right?

KERPEN: That’s exactly right. We’ve got a president who has now said he’s open to the idea of bailing out newspapers. And I’ve got a pretty interesting quote.

President Obama said – he said, “I’d be happy to look.” He said, “I haven’t seen detailed proposals yet, but I’d be happy to look at them,” for bailing out newspapers because, quote, “I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions and no serious fact checking, what you will end up with is people shouting at each other.”

So we need the government’s support in newspapers, the right-thinking newspapers.

BECK: Well, if I’m not mistaken, they’re really going for a new model of PBS. They believe – I mean, a lot of the people in the FCC now believe that PBS is the way to go. It should all be government – like the BBC, right?

KERPEN: Absolutely. That’s the model that people like Mark Lloyd like of the FCC, as well as Robert McChesney, the founder of Free Press, have, for years, been pushing …

BECK: Oh, yes.

KERPEN: … for huge taxes on commercial broadcasting to pay for vastly expanded public broadcasting under control of government.

BECK: OK. America, you need to understand this. This is about your right to speak out, because I want to show you all this week – in fact, let me show you this before we go to break. Underneath here, and I was going to unveil this today. But I decided no, no, no, we’ll wait. We’ll wait. Just for a little while, we’ll wait – maybe tomorrow.

What’s underneath this? Oh, don’t you want to see what’s behind curtain number one? Behind this is the architecture – everything that they’re doing and who’s doing it and why they’re doing it. And when you see the radicals under this, it will make your head spin. More on your freedom of speech and the fight between your right to speak out and big government, next.

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