Sen. Ted Stevens’ near-incoherent speech before Congress last week about Internet fundamentals (“It’s a series of tubes”) quickly made him a national laughingstock. But his defenders say Stevens simply used imprecise language, and that he really knows his Net stuff. You decide:
... Communications lobbyists - particularly those who side with him on “net neutrality,” but also some who don’t - say Stevens is getting a bad rap. They say he was employing analogy in the tubes statement. He understands communications-technology issues just fine, they say, however inarticulate he may have sounded at one particular moment. Stevens, many attest, is a BlackBerry junkie whose thumbs sometimes are flying over the device during meetings.
“Senator Stevens chaired 26 hearings and sat through a half-dozen listening sessions (on communications issues), some that lasted an entire day,” Sutherland said. “I can tell you from personal conversations with him almost daily on these topics that he understands the technical, the legal and the economic aspects of new technologies and how they will be deployed ... throughout the nation.”
At the heart of the barbs is Stevens’ stance on “net neutrality.” It’s a polarizing, complicated issue that has, on one side, the corporations that bring the Internet into homes and offices - such as AT&T, BellSouth and cable companies - and on the other, the companies that provide the services that people use on the Internet - most prominently Google, craigslist, eBay and Microsoft.