Have you ever read the comment section of a blog post or news article and thought, Damn, these trolls must be paid by someone?
On the pages of VICE and an investigative website I help manage called Republic Report, I've covered the net neutrality debate—whether Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should be able to create internet fast and slow lanes, or if, instead, all content should be treated equally. A writer and attorney named Kristal High has been attacking me in the comment section throughout the year.
For a story about how civil rights groups with funding from Comcast and other telecom companies wrote a letter to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) supporting the agency’s proposal to gut net neutrality, High showed up in the comment section to call me "paternalistic." After I published a story last week about how a Comcast-affiliated African American news outlet decided to delete a story I wrote about net neutrality upon being contacted by an advocacy group tied to the telecom industry, High appeared in the comment section once again to troll me. She claimed that I am wrong to be critical of the FCC's plan and that I have been wasting my time by focusing on the "lobbying dollars" spent in the debate.
Well, speaking of lobbying dollars, High just admitted on-air that she is being paid by the DCI Group, a lobbying firm founded by Republican operatives to defend the tobacco industry. DCI Group now represents many current net neutrality opponents, including Verizon and Broadband for America, a front for major cable companies we previously investigated at VICE.
High's disclosure went down in a fairly unusual way.