FCC's Pai Reads Mean Tweets

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has channeled John Oliver in a new, self-mocking video where he reads some of the hateful tweets he has gotten since taking over the top job at the FCC, and particularly since signaling his plan for rolling back Title II reclassification of ISPs.

In the video, courtesy of the Independent Journalism Review, Pai even one-ups John Oliver's lampoon of his really big Reese's Peanut Butter mug (see photo) in the video's final frames.

It was not a big stretch for Pai, who has brought his humor to FCC meetings for years with song and cultural references peppering his public statements, and even singing along to a protest song offered up at his first public meeting.

Pai says in the video that he enjoys the public debate about the future of the Internet. The video certainly gives that impression as he jokingly reads the "mean tweets" and responds good naturedly, bobbling his own head when he is likened to a bobble-head doll, for example, and defusing with humor various racially charged tweets.

"Go back to Africa were you came one," he reads, answering "Do you even English, bro?" He follows that with: "Ajit Pai is another fascist who needs to be apprehend and to be put on trial for crimes against the people. The Guillotines are coming." His response: "Well, you're not going to catch me if I'm back in Africa, now are ya?"

One tweet asks why no one has pointed out how Pai looks like Theodore from The Chipmunks. Pai answers, with the vocal speeded up to mimic the ‘munks: "AT 78 rpm, I think you have a point (Editor's note: The voice actually sounds a little more like Marcel the Shell.)

John Oliver, on the May 14 episode of Last Week Tonight, pointed to some of the racist comments that had been filed at the FCC targeting Pai--he had asked his minions the week before to flood the docket with opposition to Pai's plan--and told his viewers not to file anything like that.

"If any of those came from anyone who watches this show, stop it," he said. "Writing racist things on the Internet is not how you win the net neutrality debate, it's how you win the presidency."

He encouraged them to continue to file comments, but wait until after the FCC's May 18 vote, since the commission is in the pre-meeting "sunshine" quiet period where they cannot be lobbied on items up for a vote. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.