FCC Dem Criticizes Agency’s Alleged Delay In Response To Hurricanes, But Omits Important Details

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Eric Lieberman Managing Editor
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Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), criticized her own agency Tuesday for taking too long to hold hearings on network recovery in areas affected by the several latest hurricanes. But the public official seems to forget that hearings were held months after Hurricane Sandy occurred, when she was serving in the FCC.

She specifically asks why the FCC won’t hold hearings now for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, all which occurred in recent weeks and knocked out internet, cellular, cable services for millions of Americans.

Rosenworcel also wants the FCC to “study networks in the disaster.”

The FCC says it absolutely plans on organizing and conducting hearings, once engineers have sufficiently assisted residents in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico with their communication services. They are right now prioritizing boots on the ground over any public events, and such help could take weeks, or even months.

It is conceivable that both could be done at the same time, but the FCC asserts that is not the best use of time during emergency response.

“For some, politicizing the hurricanes might be expedient. But it’s distasteful and remarkably tone deaf,” an FCC representative told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There is an active relief and recovery effort underway, and a field hearing at this time would serve as a major distraction.”

FCC Chief of Staff Matthew Berry concurs.

Nevertheless, Rosenworcel makes her opinion clear.

“This agency should hold hearings in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico,” she wrote in a statement. “There is ample precedent for this approach — it was used in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina. I know from my experience you learn more out on the ground than you do sitting on this dais. I hope this agency has the guts to do this.”

However, there doesn’t seem to be such purported precedence from Hurricane Sandy, as she claims. In the past it has taken months to convene hearings that go over the communications networks and systems of the impacted parts of the country — perhaps for the same reasoning issued by the current FCC leadership.

Then-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced Nov. 21, 2012 that the agency would be holding hearings to examine the resiliency of communications networks post-Superstorm Sandy.

“Beginning in early 2013, hearings will take place throughout the country in locations that have experienced major natural disasters, starting in New York,” an FCC press release reads. “They will include businesses, public safety officials, engineering and academic experts, consumers and other stakeholders.”

Those hearings eventually took place in February and the following weeks — months after Hurricane Sandy rolled through the Northeast from late October to early November, not weeks. CNN’s report on Rosenworcel’s comments, titled “Trump’s FCC criticized for hurricane response,” points to the fact that “in 2012, the FCC announced hearings within weeks of Hurricane Sandy,” but fails to mention when those hearings actually took place. The Hill did the same.

Rosenworcel also omitted this information, which is notable since she was sworn in as commissioner May 2012, and served during the response to Hurricane Sandy. TheDCNF reached out to Rosenworcel to see if she was also adamantly opposed to the lack of hearings then, but she did not respond in time of publication.

As for Hurricane Katrina, there was a field hearing around a month after. That was, however, situated in Atlanta, miles away from New Orleans, so how much of a “field” hearing that one was seems dubious.

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