The PJ Tatler

Soros 'Free Press' group works with FCC behind closed doors to lobby for 'net neutrality'

The George Soros-backed “Free Press” media organization claims it is interested in ending back room deals involving government and media lobbyists.

As it declares on its web site,”For too long, media policy has been made behind closed doors in the public’s name but without our involvement or consent.”

However, in a series of newly released e-mails between the Free Press and the U.S. Federal Commuications Commission, it appears that it is the Free Press that’s working the back rooms.

Under the Freedom of Information Act the non-profit Judicial Watch obtained a number of private communications between the media group and the FCC over the policy of advancing “net neutrality,” a proposal to regulate the Internet. The Free Press is an enthusiastic supporter of net neutrality.

In the e-mails it’s clear the Free Press is acting as the FCC’s PR firm, lobbyist and speaker’s bureau all rolled up in one. As the e-mails show, the news outlet is very chummy with the FCC executive staff, advising and strategizing over the best ways to promote net neutrality. Judicial Watch reports:

  • On November 2, 2010, Free Press Associate Outreach Director Misty Perez Truedson sent an email to John Giusti, Chief of Staff to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps asking if Copps would write an op-ed for the Albuquerque Journal in advance of a November 16 hearing on Internet access: “Would Commissioner Copps be interested in drafting an Op-ed in advance of the hearing? It’s a great way to get the word out and to spark conversations in advance of the event,” Truedson wrote. “We’re working on the op ed,” Giusti wrote back on November 9.
  • The documents also include a series of emails sent to set up meetings between Copps and former Free Press President John Silver. “We are starting to get a good sense of how we’d like to proceed during the next three tricky months on NN [net neutrality]…” Silver wrote in the same October 8, 2010, email: “I think it may make sense for us to get together next week when I’m in town.” The documents also include a written summary of a phone call between Silver and Copps on November 28, 2010, just prior to the FCC vote in December: “Silver emphasized that a strong net neutrality rule is critical to preserving the Internet as a vibrant forum for speech, commerce, innovation and cultural expression…” the summary noted.
  • One set of documents includes correspondence between FCC Special Counsel David Tannenbaum and Free Press Policy Director Ben Scott establishing lists of speakers for FCC “internet workshops.” Among the speakers proposed by Scott: “Joe Respars (ran online activism for the Obama campaign – he’s at Blue State Digital);” “Alex Nogales – National Hispanic Media Coalition;” “Jay Stanley – ACLU;” and “Clothilde de Coz [redacted] Reporters without Borders.”