Pride comes before the fall. That’s a saying that has held true since it was first uttered, and it’s about to become a whole lot more relevant for the FCC.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Ajit Pai, say hello: Pai is the currently the sitting Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission – also known as the FCC.
The FCC is supposed to function as the federal tendril of the government that regulates companies like telecoms and Internet Service Providers, but has since curiously taken to tearing down the laws of Net Neutrality – the regulations that prevent ISPs from part-and-parceling the Internet to customers.
Oh, and did we mention that Pai is a former Verizon lawyer? That’s somewhat important.
Yet, as much as we’d like to list the reasons why Pai’s intention as the FCC chair should be suspect, there’s no need to.
He’s gone and done it himself. At this year’s Federal Communications Bar Association gathering in Washington DC, Pai took to the stage to joke with his fellow industry workers in the way that one might see the President share self-deprecating jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Yet Pai’s “jokes” hinted at something far more sinister.
Call you senators @ (+1) 202-759-7593 to let them know that you oppose the repeal of #NetNeutrality.
— KANAU (@mkanau) December 9, 2017
As the event was not recorded, the video in question comes from a tipster that reportedly sent it Gizmodo’s way. The runs for almost a full half-hour, but the juiciest bit is when Pai brings up a video sketch that features him talking to Verizon’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel Kathy Grillo.
In the “sketch”, Pai is approached by Grillo during his time working for Verizon, and the following exchange occurs:
Grillo: “As you know, the FCC is captured by the industry, but we think it’s not captured enough, so we have a plan.”
Pai: “What plan?”
Grillo: “We want to brainwash and groom a Verizon puppet to install as FCC chairman. Think ‘Manchurian Candidate.’”
Pai: “That sounds awesome.”
We wish we were kidding. Despite the dinner being a no-camera event, surely Pai – somewhere in his “brainwashed” mind – would have remembered that in 2017, everyone has a camera in their pocket. We guess not, because his little “joke” may end up being used as an admission of guilt should charges ever come against him.
And yet, there’s something that cuts even deeper: the fact that an entire gathering hall is filled with people that are having a rollicking good time plotting how to exert more control over their fellow man is something that is worth laughing and reveling in.