OMG! Obama is Giving Away the Internet!

It’s about time for another hypocritical right-wing freakout over something Obama is allegedly doing, probably to distract attention away from Benghazi, isn’t it? This time they’re flipping out over a plan that has been in the works since the late 90s to turn control over domain names entirely to ICANN, the organization that was created just for that purpose. Media Matters runs down all the Fox News commentators who have clutched their pearls over it lately.

On the March 15 edition of America’s News HQ, host Gregg Jarrett moderated a discussion about the possible implications of the U.S. relinquishing control of the internet to international bodies. Jarrett claimed that this step could be the “first ten steps to a takeover by something that could potentially harm openness and freedom,” and asked why “one president” should be allowed to “make a decision to give away something that has been probably one of the greatest invention by Americans.”

During the March 15 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday, Fox co-host Tucker Carlson blamed the Obama administration for causing the pressure to give up control of the internet. In his discussion with Fox host Mike Huckabee, Carlson claimed “it is only because the Obama administration has really alienated the rest of the world, the opposite of what they promised to do, that we are under all this pressure to give it up.”

On the March 15 edition of Fox News’ America’s News HQ conservative columnist Pat Buchanan claimed President Obama is transferring authority of the internet to the world “out of guilt” due to revelations about the National Security Administration.

Fox News posted on air graphics describing the Commerce Department’s decision to turn over ICANN responsibilities to an international agency as a “Super Power Surrender” on the March 15 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday. Co-host Tucker Carlson added, “Yes indeed, we actually did build that, and now we’re giving it away to the rest of the world, China included. The Obama administration about to hand over control of the internet.”

But wait. Aren’t conservatives always arguing for smaller government and for privatizing government services to private corporations? Apparently that applies all the time unless Obama does it. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal, also owned by Rupert Murdoch, has a primer on the topic that shows that, in fact, this plan has been in the works since 1998, when a contract was signed that expires next year, and that it isn’t going to give control the UN or anything. But why let facts get in the way of the latest excuse for a little foot-stomping and hand-wringing?

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  • richardelguru

    I didn’t know that Sir Tim was Murkan.

  • scienceavenger

    “it is only because the Obama administration has really alienated the rest of the world…”

    Everything you need to know about Fox News you can learn from watching how they treat this issue. They’ve been running with this “Obama has ruined our international reputation” meme for some time. The evidence they presented to support this? A poll…not of what world leaders think of us, but of what their own viewers think world leaders think of us. This prompted Colbert to issue a National poll: What do you think about what Americans think world leaders think about President Obama?

    FWIW, Pew polling suggests the view of the US is more favorable now than it was in 2007 in Poland, Japan, China, Argentina, and Canada, among other places. Fox cares more about the vices in their head than they do about reality.

  • scienceavenger

    Freudian slip for the GOrePressed, I meant “voices”, not “vices”.

  • dingojack

    Pfft giving away the nice shiny Internets — we do that all the time!


  • richardelguru

    science, I think I prefer the original version—of course I’m English so I don’t sometimes spell it wrong :-)

    Vice: ‘the opposite of virtue’, also ‘a screw apparatus for clamping work’.

  • Dunc

    I didn’t know that Sir Tim was Murkan.

    Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, not the internet. They’re very different things – the internet is the underlying infrastructure, which was first developed at DARPA in the late ’60s, whereas the WWW is an application which runs on top of that infrastructure (actually, there are several intermediate protocol layers, but we’ll ignore that for now) which was developed at CERN in the early ’90s. To analogise, the internet is like the road network, while the WWW is like the concept of pizza delivery.

  • brucemartin

    The Republicans are just expressing remorse over having questioned the fact that the www was created in part with legislation sponsored by Al Gore.

  • richardelguru

    Dunc I know that.

    A slip o’ the brain.

    (Shows I shouldn’t comment whilst fixing a crashed server—especially under the strain od it being me that crashed it!)

  • Dunc

    Sorry Richard, I’m a bit hair-trigger at the minute, what with us just having passed the 25th anniversary of people not knowing the difference between the www and the internet… 😉

  • Michael Heath

    I think a standard Burkean-friendly demand for pause and reflection can be a credible position to take on this matter. Not that these yahoos are making credible criticisms. But a functioning conservative movement should be skeptical and ask tough questions though American conservatives no longer practice competent Burkean-friendly advocacy.

  • dingojack

    MH – as a whole, did they ever?


  • lpetrich

    This is a reference to a certain Edmund Burke, who wrote a famous criticism of the French Revolution as reckless and ideological. That’s long been a classic of conservatism.

    Today’s movement conservatives seem more like Maximilien Robespierre than like Edmund Burke, it must be said.

  • Synfandel

    richardelguru and Dunc, while we’re being very correct about our usage, please note that the Internet is a proper noun that takes a capital “I”, because there is only one Internet. Local intranets are legion and take a lower case “i”.

  • dingojack

    Don’t start me on the Moon.


  • freehand

    Synfandel – “I am legion, for I am looking for a herd of pigs something something”

  • democommie

    “Today’s movement conservatives seem more like Maximilien Robespierre than like Edmund Burke, it must be said.”

    Nah. More like Trotskyites or the Khmer Rouge on acid AND meth.