Is Comcast now working with conservative think tanks to astroturf muni broadband?

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[Commentary] Last week, Forbes contributor Rosyln Layton was fed up with what she saw as a lack of journalistic stridency in reports by FierceCable, DSL Reports, as well as numerous tech media publications, on a study (PDF) published by Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society concluding that municipal broadband was generally a better deal for consumers. Layton went on to accuse FierceCable of “blindly” accepting the Berkman study. Layton is an American academic, living in Denmark, serving as a visiting fellow at the Center for Internet, Communications and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. The Washington Post once declared the AEI as the Beltway’s “dominant conservative think tank.”

In 2014, the American Enterprise Institute was accused of working with Comcast to “astroturf” the net neutrality issue. At the time, fellows at the Institute were accused of printing and posting op-eds all throughout the media in support of killing net neutrality. “In fairness, I have little to no knowledge of AEI’s funders other than what is printed in our annual report,” Layton told me. “The primary donors are individuals whom I have never met. I am a contractor to AEI, and as I understand, my stipend comes from the general fund.” It's all a reminder to us that when covering politically charged issues like this, we have to follow the money and stay vigilant. 


Is Comcast now working with conservative think tanks to astroturf muni broadband?