Net neutrality advocates silent in wake of Tuesday’s election

Mike Riggs Contributor
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The list hasn’t been finalized, but it’s almost as if Washington’s battles for the next two years have already been determined. From fetishistic scenarios in which California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa uses his new-found investigatory powers to topple the White House, to hemming and hawing about the fate of Obamacare, the drastic power shift in the House means Washington has a new, GOP-oriented agenda.

Not on said to-do list? Net neutrality. The regulatory principles that the progressive grassroots rallied around for the last 19 months are getting little air-play.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) may have succeeded in drumming up enough support to get suspended MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann back on the air — but it failed to help a single congressional candidate who signed its net neutrality petition: All 95 Democratic congressional candidates who signed the PCCC’s pledge to regulate the Internet lost their races.

Now, analysts say the issue of net neutrality is on ice.

A perusal of the left’s most colorful standard-bearers suggests as much. Media reform group Free Press has remained silent since Tuesday. Prior to the election, Free Press rallied around NPR in the Juan Williams debacle, and didn’t even attempt to make net neutrality a midterm issue. Which could mean that it’s now either gearing up for a fresh assault on FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, or revisiting its focus.

The only leftist group to come right out and admit that Tuesday’s results are bad news was Public Knowledge.

“The aftermath of the election has a lot of people guessing at what it means for a litany of issues, including those of interest to Public Knowledge and our friends,” wrote Public Knowledge analyst Ernesto Falcon.

Like Free Press, the PCCC, and the Center for American Progress, Public Knowledge has worked tirelessly over the last two years for access to the FCC’s and Congress’ sausage-making process.

“Post-election, Network Neutrality still enjoys strong bipartisan support in the U.S. Senate, although support for it has dropped in the House of Representatives,” writes Falcon, while failing to mention the failure of PCCC’s Democratic candidates.

“Essentially any progress on this critical issue now completely falls into the hands of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski.”

That’s been the conclusion for a few months now, ever since a bill proposed by California Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman was abandoned after House Republicans balked at the idea of regulating an industry that doesn’t seem to need it. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to hear Falcon, whose former boss Democratic Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak’s seat went to a Republican on Tuesday, listlessly reiterate Genachowski’s importance.

In the lead-up to Obama’s inauguration, Genachowski was viewed by public interest groups as a paladin for regulating broadband cable. Now, he’s seen as the weakest link in a movement that’s run out of steam.