Adam Cohen drinks the Kool Aid

The New York Times isn’t what it used to be. Rocked by scandal over the made-up reporting of Jayson Blair, torn apart by the dramatic ouster of Howell Raines, and shaken-up by Judith Miller’s megaphoning the Bush Administration’s fantasies about Iraq’s nuclear program, it increasingly relies on sensationalized, drama-queen reporting and opinion to hold on to a piece of market share. The most recent example of the Times’ descent into rank hysteria is a column today by Adam Cohen on the pending destruction of the World Wide Web:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist who invented the Web in 1989, envisioned a platform on which everyone in the world could communicate on an equal basis. But his vision is being threatened by telecommunications and cable companies, and other Internet service providers, that want to impose a new system of fees that could create a hierarchy of Web sites. Major corporate sites would be able to pay the new fees, while little-guy sites could be shut out.

This is bullshit, as anyone who’s read this blog before surely knows. There is no plan on anybodies part to create a “hierarchy of web sites,” there is simply a plan to make the Internet — not the Web — better able to meet the needs of real-time applications such as telephony and live streaming of TV programs. This plan actually makes the Internet more “neutral” than it was at the time of its creation as an e-mail carrier for the nation’s weapons researchers, and it does nothing at all to web sites other than potentially make more bandwidth available to them under the existing structure for pricing and selling Internet hook-ups.

Cohen is a member of the Times’ editorial board, and that fact should tell you a lot about that paper’s slide into mediocrity.

8 thoughts on “Adam Cohen drinks the Kool Aid”

  1. Why is net neut such a big deal all of a sudden? There is no problem, so why does government need to intervene right this second! Its just not needed – Google just wants a free ride on the internet highway.

  2. There’s been a background noise of telco-bashing in America as long as I can remember, going back to the monopoly days, and an end-to-end cargo cult as long as there’s been a Web. But the COPE Act brought the issue to a boil.

    Vint Cerf’s ego is damaged by the idea that somebody might actually improve the Internet, and Tim Berners-Lee’s ego by the realization that an Internet optimized for communication would make canned content less interesting.

    There’s a ragged mob always ready to protest for the fun of it, so all these things came together in a perfect storm of stupidity.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. The New York Times seems to craft their editorial pieces verbatim from talking points. You make an interesting point about the Telcos. There has been residual ill-will against telephone companies that goes back for decades. And now, some (like Google) are hoping that this will result in more governmental regulation of the Internet. This is lobbying at its finest, and here’s hoping our legislators come to their senses.

  4. I think NetChick sums it up best “there is no problem”. Government regulation should be considered a “last resort” solution when an exisiting list of grievances has been established or regulation is actually *gasp* needed! I don’t know whether it’s Teleco bashing or just plain greed, but I think the brakes need to be put on NN. Also, these days, I buy what the Times is selling in their editorials about as much as I’d believe that Moby and Michael Stipe know what’s best for the internet!

  5. Doesn’t current FCC authority already protect consumers from the “evil” telcos?

  6. The great thing about the internet is that it has had this freedom. Why would anyone believe that this regulation is for the public good? More and more people have the internet and the freedom to surf it as they please. My poor grandmother out in a rural part of Iowa has it. Regulation is just a way for the regulators and the people asking for regulations to line their pockets and protect their own interests. This regulation will kill competition and drive up the price for us working folks, and you know it won’t stop. They will regulate all over the net.

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