Christopher Dodd, the former Connecticut Senator and current chief executive of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), is developing a pretty consistent track record on ending up on the unpopular side of deeply contentious fights in. Since leaving the Senate in the wake of a public outrage over bailed-out insurance giant AIG (a Dodd constituent) paying bonuses in 2009, Dodd's role as Hollywood's chief lobbyist has made him the public face of the supporters of Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). The job requires him to make statements like his Tuesday night lecture to those planning the anti-SOPA Internet blackouts on Wednesday. "It is an irresponsible response and a disservice to people who rely on them for information use their services," Dodd said in a new hand-wringing statement sent out by the MPAA. "It is also an abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today. It’s a dangerous and troubling development when the platforms that serve as gateways to information intentionally skew the facts to incite their users in order to further their corporate interests."
Salon's Glenn Greenwald didn't let Dodd get away with his latest pro-SOPA statements. In a reasonably lengthy knuckle-rapping blog post about Dodd's troubling history of representing Washington's revolving door problem, the civil liberties lawyer takes the entertainment industry advocate to task for his "paid SOPA crusading" and more aggressively, for being a hypocrite. Greenwald writes:
Chris Dodd's emphatic 2010 pledge not to lobby once he finally left the Senate was prompted by widespread speculation that he spent the last two years in office blatantly shilling for corporate interests in order to ensure a prosperous post-Congress career. … Though sleazy and grotesque, it was therefore entirely unsurprising when it was announced last March that Dodd would "be Hollywood's leading man in Washington, taking the most prestigious job on K Street": Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), "whose perks include a $1.2 million-a-year salary and getting to attend the Academy Awards ceremony."
And how does that seem to be affecting Dodd's SOPA stance? Greenwald explains:
It is in that capacity that Dodd has become the leading public spokesman and private lobbyist for the truly dangerous PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House, bills craved by the industry that pays him. … In his SOPA advocacy, Dodd has resorted to holding up Chinese censorship as the desired model, mouthing the slogans of despots, and even outright lying.
Before leaning into his criticism of Dodd, however, Greenwald points to two stories -- one from 17 months ago in The Connecticut Mirror and one from Tuesday in the L.A. Times -- to highlight Dodd's about-face when it comes to switching to the dark side, from the public sector to the private sector. It's really the juxtaposition that makes Dodd appear hypocritical in taking the job with the MPAA at the time. Curious to hear Dodd's defense, we've reached out to the MPAA for a response to Greenwald's latest post, and will update you when we hear back. In the meantime, wouldn't it be so handy if Dodd could just get his old friends in the House and Senate to just past a law that would allow for Internet censorship. These information services can be really problematic for former politicians with some skeletons in their closets…
Not so long ago, we pointed out how Chris Dodd sounds like a bit of a despot when talking about Internet censorship, but lately, he just sounds hypocritical. This might be one in the same. Oppressive dictators like the late Muammar Qaddafi and the late Kim Jong-Il certainly weren't known for keeping up with the latest expert opinions on how to run their countries, especially when it came to regulating the Internet. (It's unclear how widely Internet access even exists in North Korea.) And when Dodd spoke out about the impending Internet-wide SOPA protest, the former senator sounded like he hadn't spoken to his former colleagues in Congress since this who anti-piracy debacle started.
Footnote: In writing this post, we hit our first blackout page set-up to protest SOPA. And Dodd is right: it was inconvenient. However it was also a poignant reminder of how much worse we could have it.