Monday, September 25, 2006

do you want lots and lots of pie or would you like a kidney infection

Stevens' Net Neutrality Poll Down The Tubes

Jason Lee Miller
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-09-20

Ted Stevens thinks we're stupid. Trying to put this Net Neutrality debate to rest in the Senate, Stevens (R-AK) distributed the results of a "bipartisan" poll indicating that the vast majority of Americans would rather watch more TV than have a neutral Internet.

Neither Stevens nor the pollsters mention that Verizon paid $60,000 for the poll, or that the questions were phrased using classic push-poll tactics.

In fact, the poll didn't seem to even be about the "series of tubes" that comprises "an internet."

The poll questions centered around cable TV choice and didn't mention anything related to Net Neutrality until the end of the poll. There was mention of a Consumer Bill of Rights, which would guarantee full access to legal Internet content, matching language already in Stevens' telecom bill. Opponents have said the "bill of rights" doesn't provide any meaningful protection of Net Neutrality.

The majority of respondents agreed that the bill of rights was important, but it was last on the list of important issues when compared to making sure nobody dies because communications networks don't work, or ensuring that poor kids get an education, or getting more TV channels, or making sure the blind and deaf can "participate more fully in the modern information economy."

But the real kickers came at the end of the poll. When the 800 respondents were asked if they'd heard of Net Neutrality (this is the first mention of the concept in the poll), about 7 percent had heard of it.

Does this mean that Net Neutrality is a non-issue because America doesn't care? Or does it mean that the pollsters at Glover Park Group and Public Opinion Strategies conducted a biased, telecom-funded poll, asking people that know nothing about the issue how they felt about it?

The last question tops it off:

Which of the following two items do you think is the most important to you:

Delivering the benefits of new TV and video choice so consumers will see increased competition and lower prices for cable TV


Enhancing Internet neutrality by barring high speed internet providers from offering specialized services like faster speed and increased security for a fee
Well, since you put it that way…more TV sounds a lot better than slow Internet and bad security. Turns out 73 percent of respondents agreed.

"The rest of the questionnaire is similarly structured along the lines of 'do you want lots and lots of pie or would you like a kidney infection'," writes Matt Stoller.

"What's particularly amazing is that 17 percent of the respondents chose the kidney infection," answers Tim Karr at, where 1.3 million people have heard of Net Neutrality, compared to Stevens' 800 people who missed part of a Seinfeld rerun to answer the poll.

A rough translation of the questions:

1. Do you like TV?
2. Would you like to watch more TV?
3. Which is better: cheap TV or expensive TV?
4. What if your TV breaks? Would you like someone to fix it?
5. Do you like good TV or bad TV?
6. Put these in order from most important to least important:
a.) helping people stay alive
b.) more TV
c.) healing the blind
d.) slow Internet, less TV, and killing people

Stevens and company interpreted the results to mean that "onerous Net Neutrality regulations" would interfere with the nation's TV watching and therefore should be put to rest.

This poll is the next in a string of recent dirty tricks attempted by bridge-to-nowhere-but-a-series-of-tubes Stevens. The octogenarian telecom-funded senator in charge of rewriting telecommunication laws recently tried to sneak a vote while opposition was away for the August recess, and secretly put a hold on a bill that would make federal funding more transparent.

But it's not all so bleak. Rumor has it that Stevens plans to retire soon. But then, who will protect our TV?

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