Remember that "monumentally unfunny" video of FCC chair Ajit Pai doing the Harlem Shake while wearing a Santa outfit and waving a lightsaber, which was imposed upon the world just 24 hours before his agency voted to gut net neutrality?
"The very basic fact that they're unwilling to even disclose whether anybody had objections to this internally, or if they were all aboard, is the larger problem."
—Josh Burday, attorney
Apparently, the FCC doesn't want the public to know anything about its secretive deliberations with the right-wing Daily Caller that brought this "comedy" sketch into existence.
Faced with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the non-profit investigative group MuckRock—which asked for the communications between the Daily Caller and the FCC—the Republican-controlled agency this week invoked the so-called b5 exemption, which one analyst described as "an excuse used by government regulators to avoid releasing public documents."
"The very basic fact that they're unwilling to even disclose whether anybody had objections to this internally, or if they were all aboard, is the larger problem," said J. Pat Brown, the executive editor of Muckrock, which is appealing the FOIA denial and reportedly contemplating filing a lawsuit against the FCC. "You are entitled answers out of your government."
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MuckRock's FOIA request is hardly the first to be stonewalled by the agency chaired by a former Verizon lawyer who promised to make transparency one of his top objectives. Jason Prechtel, a freelance writer, filed suit against the FCC last September over its repeated denials of FOIA requests related to Pai's net neutrality repeal plan.
"It's no surprise that the FCC is continuing to deny FOIA requests like the 'Harlem Shake' request in an effort to keep everything related to the controversial repeal of net neutrality secret," Josh Burday, Prechtel's attorney, told NBC News on Thursday. "The FCC failed to so much as respond to our client's request regarding the net neutrality comment process until after we filed suit. When the FCC finally did respond it essentially denied the request in its entirety."
In case you intentionally erased it from memory, or have never seen it before, here is FCC chair Ajit Pai doing the Harlem Shake, mocking net neutrality, and showing "just how dumb he thinks Americans are":