Why Are The People Who Whined About Wheeler's Net Neutrality Rules Being '400 Pages' Silent About Pai's Being '539 Pages'

Mike Wendy is an interesting guy. He's ever present on Twitter attacking pretty much anyone who is in favor of net neutrality and has a bit of a following. In his day job, he operates something called "Media Freedom" which is one of an astoundingly long list of astroturf operations parroting telco interests (nearly all of Wendy's prior career was spent working for telco industry groups). Over the last two years, Wendy has been one of the most vocal attackers of the Tom Wheeler's net neutrality rules -- and he had a pretty strong go to line about just how much of a "regulatory" burden the rules were. Let me see if I can find it... Oh, right.

Yes, as Wendy's repetition was designed to point out, over and over again, those old rules simply must be extra burdensome, because it's 400 pages and over 1700 footnotes. Of course, that's bullshit, and Wendy knows its bullshit -- but he wanted to misrepresent the rules and make them seem like a giant regulatory burden. The actual rules were just 8 pages. There were 392 other pages of legally required information including discussions of the various public comments and the various statements from the Commissioners, including lengthy dissent statements from the disagreeing commissioners. In the Wheeler ruling, Ajit Pai's dissent took up 64 pages and Michael O'Rielly's was another 15 pages. Yet, somehow, Wendy and others didn't bother letting people know that 89 pages of the 400 pages were explaining why the rules were (apparently) bad.

When the draft rules came out, at 210 pages, I wondered why Wendy and others were suddenly silent on the page length.

Last week, as you may have heard, Pai's actual final rules were released... and the full document weighs in at 539 pages. Again, those are not the actual rules. Those are just the rules, the legally required (and very detailed) explanation of the rules and all the Commissioners' statements. And guess who's suddenly angry about people misrepresenting why the new document is so long? Why, it's our old buddy, Mike Wendy:

Wendy is correct that a big chunk of the new document is Clyburn's appendix, which are Wheeler's original order (including all the required explanatory text), but remember, Wendy didn't bother to discount similar text appended to Wheeler's order at all. Instead, he used it repeatedly to falsely imply that the rules were a complicated 400 pages of burdensome regulations. Remember "400 pages, 1777 footnotes of "simple" Title II. Sure, Kev" from Wendy? But now, suddenly, it's nitpick, nitpick, nitpick about which parts are in favor and which parts are dissent. Fascinating.

To be fair, Fight for the Future similarly should not be playing up the "539 pages" for the same reasons that Wendy and other anti-neutrality folks shouldn't have played up the 400 pages. But at least unlike Wendy and others, Fight for the Future is just complaining about how bad the new rules are, not suggesting totally incorrectly, that the (false and misleading) length of the rules is somehow an indication of how "burdensome" and "complicated" the rules are.

Again, it's fine to make arguments about the actual rules (8 pages in the Wheeler order and 2 pages in the Pai order), but it should be quite clear that those who actually understand this stuff (like, say, someone who's worked in the telco policy space for decades) should acknowledge that they were absolutely full of shit in repeatedly arguing that the Wheeler rules were 400 pages. Or, if they're not willing to admit that, then why aren't they similarly complaining about the "539 pages" of the Pai "rules"? Maybe -- and I'm just spitballing here -- it's because they're total hypocrites who were happy to misrepresent the length of the rules when they didn't like them, but are now going to nitpick the specifics because using their very same argument against them would, I don't know, make them look ridiculous?

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