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FCC’s Inspector General investigating whether Ajit Pai acted inappropriately (vice.com)
289 points by cpeterso on Feb 15, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 39 comments

I still cannot believe why something as serious as Media consolidation & net neutrality laws are pretty much in this guy's hands.

Well it's whoever is in charge of the FCC.

I'm still shocked that he even became a commissioner.

In normal times, I could understand that shock. But looking at everyone else that's a part of this administration...

EDIT: Read the comments below, I was off a bit.

EDIT2: I can't proofread - edited to clarify that DJT isn't the 55th POTUS.

To be entirely fair, he isn't a partisan issue, and not one entirely of this administration. He was appointed by the 44th President and got a promotion by the 45th.

> To be entirely fair, he isn't a partisan issue

Yes, he is.

> and not one entirely of this administration.

Not exclusively, it is a broader one of the Republican Party.

> He was appointed by the 44th President

That's technically true, but the members of independent commissions that are required by law to not be of the President's party are, by strong tradition, chosen by the other major party's leadership in the Senate, despite being formally appointed by the President. Pai was chosen by Mitch McConnell.

> and got a promotion by the 55th.

You're off by ten.

> You're off by ten.

Agh, I need to proofread more.

> That's technically true, but the members of independent commissions that are required by law to not be of the President's party are, by strong tradition, chosen by the other major party's leadership in the Senate, despite being formally appointed by the President. Pai was chosen by Mitch McConnell.

It's a tradition, though, not a law, correct? Why leave in a tradition that will harm American consumers?

> Not exclusively, it is a broader one of the Republican Party.

Again, couldn't he have ignored this tradition and put into place an Independent/Green Party member?

> Yes, he is.

The way he got there in the first place was through a person of the other party, no? Is there a law in place stating that he has to promote a Republican, rather than a person of another non-Democrat party?


I do have to say though, I see your point in theory, minus the tradition bit.

> It's a tradition, though, not a law, correct? Why leave in a tradition that will harm American consumers?

It's a tradition backed by the Constitutional rule that appointees must be confirmed by the Senate, and structure and rules of the Senate which, in practice on matters of appointment (for those offices for which filibusters have not been abolished in Senate rules), allow either major party, if unified, to obstruct appointments (and, additionally, legislation.)

So, sure, Obama could have not appointed whoever McConnell chose—and had even worse legislative prospects and basically guaranteed a vacancy that his successor would have gotten to fill, while weakening a tradition that (given the way power is divided in the US Constitution) is key to various parts of the government functioning at all.

> couldn't he have ignored this tradition and put into place an Independent/Green Party member?

No. He could have nominated such a person, but they would have zero chance of being confirmed. If he chose not to nominate Pai, he would, to have any choice of confirmation, find someone who enough Republican Senators liked better than Pai enough to overlook the violation of tradition and snub of their leadership. Which might be possible, but probably wouldn't be any better.

The President is not a dictator, and there are significant checks on his power in the American system.

Historically, it has been important to have a diversity of opinion on an independent board with delegated policy making authority. These traditions are enforced as dragonwriter pointed out by the confirmation process.

Unfortunately the modern GOP was a party with a narrow, declining constituency that was reinvigorated by a tidal wave of money, much more so than the Democratic Party, which is a big tent party with many different constituencies.

Personally, I don’t think that a guy like Pat is fit for public service, whatever his beliefs. He’s too obviously close to past employers.

Pai was appointed by Obama at the recommendation of Mitch McConnell.

And this is because only 3 FCC commissioners may be members of the same political party. So once Obama appointed 3 Democrats, he HAS to appoint 2 Republicans. McConnell essentially appointed the other 2 for Obama.

Thank you for informing me - I was unaware of that requirement.

Couldn't he have appointed an Independent/Green Party to the position, though?

What would that have gotten him?

He was chosen explicitly as the Republican nominee on the FCC board of commissioners, so it is most certainly partisan.

I hope President Camacho wouldn't promote him.

What could it even mean for a part of the federal government to be "non-partisan"? Rogue / representing no one?

Neither of those things are quite true, but he will be taking the Fifth.


Days of common sense are totally gone if fast food chain is educating people these days on how internet works

This is how just about every regulation the government imposes are created. A commission of 5-11 people publish their intent to make rules, have a comment period, they either allow public comments to influence the rules or more likely just ignore the input and put the rules to a vote. As long as they follow the laws relating to rule making, the public’s only recourse is to sue the agency. Which actually can be an effective strategy depending on how the agency is funded and what cash reserves they have. The public can also demand legislation to preempt certain rules as well, but that depends on finding a majority of representatives that haven’t been influenced by industry money.

Philosophically, the way our system is set up they should absolutely be in the hands of congress. It was a blunder by Obama to go through the FCC instead of Congress.

The frustrating thing is that the Republican party seems to think that because a good thing was done in the wrong way, it needs to be undone, without thought of doing it again the "right" way.

Congress gives the FCC its money and power, and it can overrule any of their decisions. Democrats have already introduced bills to protect net neutrality.

I live in a red state and e-mailed all of my representatives about net neutrality and I got a response back from all but one of them. From their responses, and my own research I've concluded there is another side to this story than just Republicans treating this like a partisan issue or votes being bought out from Comcast so large cable companies can make more money.

All my representatives expressed support for repealing title 2, saying things like it hurts competition, creates a higher barrier of entry for competing companies, and the majority said they were going to be working to ensure laws are made to have true net neutrality.[0] From the responses from my representatives, and from the research I have verified from them since then, I can say title two was likely not the solution we were looking for, I would urge you to look for viewpoints against title two as well, and remember to stay skeptical to avoid fake news from all sides of the political spectrum.

[0]Excerpt from one of my congressman, I'd type up one of my senator's responses but he sent me physical mail as a reply which I don't have on me: "Like you, I believe [people in our state] should have access to a free and open internet. Following the FCC's vote, I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to enact legislation that will preserve net neutrality principles while ensuring that the Internet is kept free from government regulations so it can continue to thrive and improve our connectivity and economy."

Regardless of the merits of the case, does "local control" matter? Any web site is available in pretty much every inhabited corner of the US (and this means Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, but also Medium, NYTimes.com, Foxnews.com, random blogs, and, let's not forget, stormfront, 4chan, foxnews.com, and mother jones.com. The big broadcast networks (Comcast-NBC, CBS, Disney/ABC, and in radio, Clearchannel) dominate the airwaves in every market, just as they are entering eclipse. Do "local" stations even matter?

FWIW I really, really dislike Sinclair Publishing, haven't liked almost anything Pai has said to date, and am somewhat willing to believe, a priori, that he is corrupt. And still I am not sure if there is really a problem.

I would argue that local channels matter even more now than they used to.

Most of my day-to-day news sources are national or international. Most of the media and pop culture I consume too. I'm lucky enough to still have a local newspaper that does some actual reporting, but it's probably not long for this world. Even social media and the water cooler at work are more interested in the widely distributed professional communities I'm a member of then the actual physical community I live in.

My city's nightly news broadcast is close to the only reliable source of information about my municipal and state government in my media diet. In all but the most sensational of cases, it's likely to be the one place I hear about huge classes of events which will have far more of an impact on my life than whatever is on CNN today. For all but the federal level, it's as likely as not to be my sole passive source of information about political candidates.

I like to think I'm an unusually well-informed citizen (by which I mean I'm a politics junkie) and without a half hour of TV news every night I would have absolutely no clue what most of my government is doing in my name with my tax dollars.

And who's to say he can't be persuaded by some green bills either?

I post on http://reddit.com/r/noNetNeutrality occasionally. Can you show me exactly how he was paid and by who? I hear this all the time but no evidence has been cited.

I think it'd be silly to assert he's being directly bribed with big suitcases full of cash.

The concepts of regulatory capture and revolving doors are hardly new or significantly disputed, though. He's worked for Verizon in the past, and I'd fully expect him to land a nice industry job after his tenure. Doing nice things for industry helps a lot in future employment prospects.

He has joked in the past about being a "Verizon puppet" (https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/12/ajit-pai-jokes-a...) and given his actions I think there's a bit of truth to the joke.

He's probably being paid to start the investigation too.


Please don't post unsubstantive/uncivil comments here. Regardless of how bad someone is or how much you dislike them, there's no reason to make Hacker News worse.

You may not owe any better to the FCC chair, but you do owe better to this community. If we're to have a place for interesting discussion on the internet, we're each responsible for taking care of it.

[Citation needed]

Typically over-the-top Vice headline. This is what Inspectors General are supposed to do.


edit: let me pose this differently, who else would be investigating Pai in his role as head of the FCC for potential misconduct in that role? That is the job of the IG.

That’s like saying “Sure I’m being investigated by the police, but that’s not notable at all, because investigating people is what the police are supposed to do.”

Yes, it is notable, because of the target.

>This is what Inspectors General are supposed to do.

Sure, but this is the first time in my lifetime (43yo) that I have heard of an FCC head being investigated... AND I have spent my entire career online...

So this is actually big news (to me) - in that I already was aware that I thought Pai was a corporate douche-plant... and NOW he is being investigated??? huh. so... yeah - I was speculating previously that he was a "bad dude" - but now he is a Bad Dude

The NYT article pointed out that Tom Wheeler, the previous FCC head, was also investigated by the FCC IG.


yes, but this is the first time that the media has made a big deal out of it, so it must be more important.

Sure, it's what they're supposed to do, but it's notable when a) they have work to do and b) the target is the head of the agency instead of some random low-level employee.

I think it's a complaint about the clickbaity phrasing. "by his own agency" vs. "by the FCC inspector general's office".

Yes, it's a complaint about the clickbaity phrasing.

Doesn't seem clickbaity at all to me. He could be investigated by any number of agencies. It just so happens that this one is the one he is in charge of. Accurate headline.

No one is saying it's factually false. Why is it relevant/notable that it's "his own" agency? Are agency inspector generals normally loyal to their appointed directors? To the point where it goes without saying, I was supposed to assume that?

The headline seems to invoke clues towards betrayals and alliances which humans' general hopeless fascination towards potentially in excess of veridicality is frequently exploited by clickbait

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