More astrofurf attacks — from New America Foundation official & FreePress Alum Sascha Meinrath

October 1, 2009

Sascha Meinrath, a research director at the New America Foundation and former policy analyst at FreePress, accused National Public Radio of taking illegal “payola” because they fairly offered my anti-net neutrality-regulation op-ed, in addition to the pro-net-neutrality regulation op-ed NPR Online had posted the same day of FCC Chairman Genachowski’s net neutrality speech.

  • Mr. Meinrath’s post was entitled: “Why NPR hates Net neutrality: 21st Century Payola?”
  • Mr. Meinrath’s accusation was: “The question I have for NPR is how is it that they get a bunch of funding from an industry fronted astroturf group and then (on the same day) decide to run an anti network neutrality rant on the same day? I thought payola was illegal.”
First, adult supervision at the New America Foundation might want to suggest to Mr. Meinrath that it is not wise or befitting a “research director” of the “non-partisan-“represented New America Foundation to be making very serious public criminal accusations that National Public Radio is taking illegal bribes, “payola,” unless he or his employer, the New America Foundation, is able and willing to provide evidence of his charges. Otherwise some could view Mr. Meinrath’s accusation as libel, at its worst, or bad form, at its best.

Second, does the “new America” that the New America Foundation envisions allow for freedom of speech for views different than their own and opposing op-eds on National Public Radio Online?

  • Moreover,do Mr. Meinrath’s unsubstantiated “payola” accusations reflect well on New America’s pledge that:
    • New America invests in outstanding individuals whose ability to communicate to wide and influential audiences can change the country’s policy discourse in critical areas, bringing promising new ideas and debates to the fore.”
  • Does New America believe Mr. Meinrath’s communication approach, which may border on libel, best promotes “promising new ideas?”

Third, this incident drips with irony.

  • Mr. Meinrath appears to believe that my op-ed, which actually argued that the FCC Chairman’s proposed net neutrality rules may be an unconstitutional infringement of free speech (among other constitutional problems), should not enjoy freedom of speech on National Public Radio Online of all places!
  • I also thought net neutrality was all about protecting “Internet freedoms” and protecting freedom of speech online!

Fourth, does Mr. Meinrath and New America Foundation think it is wise to accuse me of being an “astroturf group,” when my NPR Online op-ed identifier clearly said:

  • Scott Cleland is president of Precursor LLC, an industry consulting firm, and is chairman of, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests.” [Bold added]
    • How is that astroturf? Not hiding anything.
  • Do I not enjoy, like all Americans, First Amendment constitutional freedoms? (no “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances“)
  • Does the “new America” that Mr. Meinrath envisions, countenance any public dissent over net neutrality regulation or views he disagrees with?

Lastly, if my public, unabashed, and well-disclosed affiliation with broadband interests, who share my personal views that markets and competition better serve consumers than Government regulation, qualifies as “astroturf,” why is the less transparent Google support of the New America Foundation not considered “astroturf?”

  • The Chairman of the New America Foundation is Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt and he has given $1 million to the New America Foundation, which represents about 7% of their total annual budget.
  • Why is my open relationship with broadband interests “astroturf” and New America’s cozy relationship with Google not “astroturf?”

In short, I shouldn’t be surprised that a double standard like net neutrality, which only applies to some Internet access providers and not the world’s largest information access provider, Google, would coexist with the double standard view that my affiliation with broadband interests is “astroturf” while the New America Fouundation’s affiliation with Google is not “astroturf.”



One Response to “More astrofurf attacks — from New America Foundation official & FreePress Alum Sascha Meinrath”

  1. Brett Glass said

    Don’t look now, but you’re also being attacked by the head lawyer/lobbyist of Public Knowledge at Note that besides engaging against ad hominem attacks against both you and me, Harold also makes a number of false statements — including a claim that Free Press discloses its funding sources when in fact it carefully redacts them from the copies of Form 990 that it publishes.

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