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Trump nominated FCC commissioner confirmed, Democrat types sulk

US President Trump has managed to get Nathan Simington, an ally in the attempt to reform Section 230, confirmed as an FCC Commissioner.

The vacancy became available in September when Trump effectively sacked Mike O’Rielly for opposing his push to reform Section 230. This is the bit of law that says internet platforms are not liable for the content they host on the grounds that they have no editorial input into the process. Trump argues that their increasingly censorious behaviour means that stipulation no longer applies.

Trump has had an adversarial relationship with the US media throughout his short political career, accusing them of bias against him. This year he has extended that ire to social media, which he thinks applies harsher standards of censorship to the conservative side of the political divide. Having apparently lost the recent Presidential election, Trump seems determined to follow through on his Section 230 attack in what little time he has left.

While the FCC is supposed to be apolitical, nothing is in the US these days and commissioners usually consist of a couple of Republican-biased ones, a couple of Democrat-biased ones and the Chairperson, who is appointed by the President. Accordingly, current Chairman Ajit Pai has announced he’s clearing off ASAP and the absence of O’Reilly left only one Republican Commissioner, Brendan Carr.

However, Trump nominated Simington as soon as he turfed out supposedly pro-Republican O’Reilly, so it was just a matter of getting sign-off from the US Senate. After recent elections the Republicans still have the majority of Senators, so they have confirmed Simington because that’s how it works over there. He is expected to keep pushing for Section 230 reform regardless of who is in the White House.

Inevitably this has led to much wailing and gnashing of teeth among pro-Democrat types in the US, which includes most of its media. This piece from Vice, for example, is so hysterical and one-sided in its analysis that you just have to laugh. The fact that these people still have the nerve to call themselves journalists is breathtaking.

Perhaps they were hoping O’Reilly might be replaced with a Democrat Commissioner, but that was never likely. Maybe they were hoping a Democrat victory in the re-run Georgia Senator elections would give them the opportunity to force their nominee in and they’re upset about having it taken away from them at the 11th hour. There’s also some bleating about Simington’s qualifications, but that’s moot.

“I congratulate Nathan on his confirmation by the U.S. Senate and look forward to welcoming him to the Commission,” said Pai “It has been the greatest honour of my professional life to serve at the FCC, and I am confident that Nathan too will enjoy the challenges and rewards of the job. Nathan was raised in a rural community, and his confirmation ensures that this important perspective will continue to be represented on the Commission for years to come as the FCC continues its work on bridging the digital divide. And with his experience at NTIA and in the private sector, Nathan is well-positioned to hit the ground running.  I wish him all the best going forward.”

“I want to extend my congratulations to Nathan Simington on his confirmation tonight by the United States Senate to serve on the Federal Communications Commission,” said Carr. “Nathan will bring a wealth of private and public sector experience to the Commission, including having served most recently as Senior Advisor in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. Once he is sworn in, I look forward to working together with him and my other colleagues on the Commission on common sense policies that will advance the public interest.”

Democrat Commissioner Rosenworcel was less effusive in her welcome. “I congratulate Nathan Simington on his confirmation,” she said. “I welcome him to the Federal Communications Commission. Serving the American people is a great honour. I look forward to working with him as we take on our nation’s most pressing digital age communications challenges.” The other Democrat Commissioner, Starks, hasn’t welcomed him at all, which is just charming.

The main areas of melodrama emanating from the US commentariat concern the implications for Section 230. Many of them are focusing on the straw man of its complete abolition, which is never going to happen. Those that resist even attempts to reform it seem to be exclusively from the Democrat side of the aisle, which says all you need to know about who benefits most from social media censorship.


One comment

  1. Avatar Professor Peter Curwen 09/12/2020 @ 5:38 pm

    It would increasingly appear to be the case that hirings and firings are politically influenced in the USA. It would be nice to suggest that we do things better in the UK but I’m not at all sure that is the case. Certainly, the idea of falling on your sword when you have completely messed up has gone totally out of fashion. It would be nice to argue that the Chinese are doing better these days because they are more moral but that is patently untrue. And as for Russia…..

    But if we cannot rely upon the body politic for moral leadership then we cannot expect the the likes of Facebook in the private sector to behave any differently, and this does imply that they must be brought under such controls as may be possible even at this rather late stage. Pending this unlikely outcome, my personal solution is to refuse to sign up for any kind of social media but that probably just makes me look like a dinosaur.

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