BILL MOYERS: Barack Obama told us there would be no compromise on Net neutrality. We heard him say it back in 2007, when he first was running for president.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: To seize this moment we have to ensure free and full exchange of information and that starts with an open Internet. I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality, because once providers start to privilege some applications or websites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out and we all lose. The InterNet is perhaps the most open network in history and we have to keep it that way.

BILL MOYERS: He said it so many times that defenders of Net neutrality believed him. They believed he would keep his word, would see to it that when private interests set upon the Internet like sharks to blood in the water, its fate would be in the hands of honest brokers who would listen politely to the pleas of the greedy, and then show them the door.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be the infamous revolving door. Last May, President Obama named Tom Wheeler to be FCC chairman. Mr. Wheeler had been one of Obama’s top bundlers of campaign cash, both in 2008 and again in 2012, when he raised at least half a million dollars for the President’s re-election. Like his proposed rules for the Web, that put him at the front of the line.

What’s more, Wheeler had been top gun for both the cable and wireless industries. And however we might try to imagine that he could quickly abandon old habits of service to his employers, that’s simply not how Washington works. Business and government are so intertwined there that public officials and corporate retainers are interchangeable parts of what Chief Justice John Roberts might call the "gratitude machine." Round and round they go, and where they stop. Actually they never stop. They just flash their EZ pass as they keep shuttling through that revolving door.

Consider, Daniel Alvarez was a long-time member of a law firm that has advised Comcast. He once wrote to the FCC on behalf of Comcast arguing against Net neutrality rules. He’s been hired by Tom Wheeler.

Philip Verveer also worked for Comcast and the wireless and cable trade associations. He’s now Tom Wheeler’s senior counselor. Attorney Brendan Carr worked for Verizon and the telecom industry’s trade association, which lobbied against Net neutrality. Now Brendan Carr is an adviser to FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, who used to be a top lawyer for Verizon.

To be fair, Tom Wheeler has brought media reformers into the FCC, too, and has been telling us that we don’t understand. We’re the victims of misinformation about these proposed new rules. That he is still for Net neutrality. Possibly, but the public’s no chump and as you can see from just those few examples I’ve recounted for you from the reporting of intrepid journalist Lee Fang, these new rules are not the product of immaculate conception.

So this public comment period is crucial. You have a chance to tell both Obama and Wheeler what you think, so that the will of the people and not the power of money and predatory interests, is heard.

At our website,, we'll show you how to get in touch with the FCC and we’ll connect you to the public interest organizations and media reform groups that can help you get your voices heard.

That’s at I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

Bill Moyers Essay: What Happened to Obama’s Promised Net Neutrality?

Running for president in 2007, Barack Obama pledged to keep the Internet open to all, upholding the principle of Net neutrality. Now his FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, has introduced new rules that have caused an uproar among public interest groups and media reform advocates. They believe Wheeler’s proposed changes break Obama’s campaign promise and will allow providers like Verizon and Comcast to sell faster access to the Web to the highest bidder.

The problem, Bill Moyers says, is that “business and government are now so intertwined that public officials and corporate retainers are interchangeable parts of what Chief Justice John Roberts might call ‘the gratitude machine.’” FCC officials, including Wheeler, transit back and forth through the revolving door between public service and lucrative private commerce, losing sight of the greater good. But there’s still time to speak up and make your voices heard.

Watch the full show: Is Net Neutrality Dead? »

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  • Leonor Fontes

    Candiate Obama and President Obama are like two different people.

  • DaveC

    Only to those who didn’t do their homework or saw in candidate Obama only what they wanted to see.

  • Leonor Fontes

    We did our homework. He used to be a community organizer, I thought he cared for the people. I was dreaming, like MLK.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, yeah, I already saw this on CNN and MSNBC.

    I’m kidding!!

    As usual, Mr. Moyers is ahead of the pack. But the pack has no intention of catching up. Even with their so-called experts panels, these corporate media networks still avoid talking about these kinds of revolving door connections. Exactly the same as with the revolving door between Monsanto and/or Bayer Crop Sciences and the FDA/EPA.

    I’ve known about this for some time now. Glad he’s talking about it, and has for some time. Wish more people knew about this. It seems most people just don’t contemplate it.

  • Anonymous

    So did your homework tell you that his opponent was the better candidate? No need to do homework on any particular candidate, it doesn’t matter, the process is broken.

  • Anonymous

    If ever gets their contitutional convent, perhaps a law that prevents any former fortune 500 company executive employees from entering federal politics would be worth looking at

  • Leonor Fontes

    His opponent was not a better candidate.

  • Olderandwiser

    Mr. Moyers, with all due respect, you seem to ignore FCC rules put into place in 2010-and gutted by the courts. Many people believe you, I’m quite disappointed that this wasn’t researched and predictably “blamed on obama”. Please make a correction

  • Anonymous

    Nope, his opponent was far and away worse. Unfortunately that doesn’t make either Candidate Obama or President Obama a particularly GOOD choice, just the least worst of the options.

    This situation isn’t unexpected, just unacceptable.

  • Anonymous

    moyers is saying here for the pulbicto provide input in the public comment period which is now. He also showed the players involved in this are all big pro-cable corporation people. this is not misleading but facts. I read the wired article and I still dont quite get it. is this going to be appeaed to SCOTUS? is seems VERY nuanced and BS,sopme kind of lawyers trick to screw us. NEt neutrality. is what the net was conceived to be . thedistrict court is wrong if in fact it countermanded this.

  • Theresa Riley

    Dear OlderandWiser:

    This was mentioned earlier in this week’s episode — the clip above is Bill’s essay at the end of the show. Here’s the relevant transcript excerpt.

    “BILL MOYERS: And Tom Wheeler says that, look, the FCC’s tried twice to rewrite the rules of Net neutrality. And the appeals court, federal appeals court, has turned thumbs down twice. He’s saying, I’m only doing what I can do to write rules that are consistent with what the court has said.

    SUSAN CRAWFORD: What’s not right about that is that he can do something. The FCC has tried to simultaneously deregulate by not labeling these guys as utilities. And yet, adopt Net neutrality rules. All he has to do is relabel these services as utility services. And then he stands on firm legal footing. He can forebear from any details of those rules. He doesn’t want to apply. The courts have struck this down because it’s incoherent. That’s the problem. If he marches forward on a clear legal path, he’ll be fine. But he wants to avoid World War III on the cable institutions.”

    Please watch the entire episode for the complete conversation:


  • Leonor Fontes

    Agreed, he was the least worst.

  • Leonor Fontes

    Of course there is a big difference, but it gave you the impression that he was idealistic. He was trying to help the community in a small way. Of course, after he became president, he forgot about them, he never looked back.

  • Olderandwiser

    It is very confusing. The Net Neutrality debate had been going on since early in Bush administration when rules were established. Then, have been revised a number of times.

    The confusion is that there are many definitions of what “net neutrality” is. Behind that, is the question “who runs the internet?” Some would say, it belongs to the people (that business is only secondary), some would say corporations, businesses are first (free market libertarians) ands some are in between, as am I.

    To choke off corporations is to choke off some very small businesses as well-yet we want equality among large and small. There is no doubt that corporations like Netflix or amazon make the internet more interesting and a place individuals enjoy even more.

    The FCC is putting into place new rules again May 15th, taking into consideration court rulings.

    A lot of those leading the discussion against the current FCC are either far left that want major regulation-or far right that want free market-if the wealthy control it, so be it.

    Keep in mind that rules can be changed-and are.

  • Ron Quandt

    Sorry, I just think there is a huge difference between the two; community Organizer is small enough , much of it is hands on, Presidency is working with people who are fighting you for the power, negotiations, and policies; He has not handled that part of the job well; Has naot spent enough time battling Congress or debating with them; Just seems to do menial jobs that he does not have to deal with them. He needs to be in their face every day!

  • Olderandwiser

    I have some problems with Susan an expert, I believe she attempts to simplify some very complicated issues about what we can do to achieve net neutrality (which is not simple at all, ranging from full out Laissez-faire that many call net neutrality to strictly regulated on the opposite side-and the truth is somewhere in between I think- regulating to keep the internet accessibly for all.

    It’s very, very complicated and bumper sticker length rhetoric isn’t helpful in trying to understand a difficult issue.

  • mazbarth

    My son lives in Europe, as do several very good friends. Our system is much slower and inefficient, along with much more expensive, compared with theirs. I pay ten times more for one quarter the speed! We will all lose if things continue as they are going now. Sure hope the FCC does the right thing on this!

  • GregoryC

    I’m more inclined to agree with Glen Ford, that Obama isn’t the least worst option, but the “more effective evil” given his corporate-friendly accomplishments.

  • GregoryC

    What happened indeed: net neutrality, public option health care, renegotiating NAFTA, open & transparent government, excluding lobbyists from his administration, GMO food labeling, closing GITMO, etc. Either Obama sacrificed his campaign promises betraying voters or ran the most elaborate, successful scam in electoral history.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t confuse this issue with the logistics issue.

  • Anonymous

    “He has not handled that part of the job well;”

    so how do you handle when the pubs refuse to do anything, even if they agree with it?

    “Has naot spent enough time battling Congress or debating with them”

    Only if by not you mean, more then most presidents.

  • Richard McMillan

    what happened to every promise he made?? oh boohoo another politician lied every other sentence.. why is an old man like this surprised?

  • Menagerie

    Hello Bill and thank you for your service, unfortunately we are on the precipice in America unseen before in US history and for the unbelievers just stick around.

    Our US leaders are all liars on both sides of the isle it make no difference who is running for office because it’s all run by the almighty buck “Citizens United” !

    If Americans don’t standup and say not in my America we all will be stuck in quicksand that will either gobble us all up or take generations to undo what these thieves in DC have done for the love of money.

    Bill I feel sorry for your grandchildren and the grandchildren of all Americans. It’s unfortunate that we have so many naysayers that feel everything is just moving along just nicely as the pied piper leads us all into the sea without a life jacket. So sad !

  • Anonymous

    What does his age have to do with his views?