The FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler, was booing loudly by the packed audience at a press conference on Tuesday during his first public appearance since becoming Chairman.
Wheeler’s press conference was interrupted several times by jeers from the crowd, with one man standing next to Wheeler and making a “Proud to Be White” sign.
“I don’t know how to explain it.
You don’t get to yell at the press conference like that,” said one attendee.
“That’s what I thought I would get when I was a kid, to get to a press briefing and get booed,” said another.
“And I don’t have to tell you, it was like being in a school cafeteria,” said a third.
Wheeler addressed the media at a conference called to discuss the future of the FCC’s authority to regulate broadband providers.
He said the FCC would consider the impact of “net neutrality” in the future and that he was “deeply troubled” by the Trump administration’s move to dismantle net neutrality rules in favor of Title II regulation.
“We are in a world where we have the opportunity to have a free and open Internet that everyone is able to use, that nobody is forced to pay for, and we need to protect that.
And we also have a choice to make, because we can either stand by and allow this to happen, or we can do something to try to preserve it,” Wheeler said.
He also expressed support for an open Internet and for Congress to “create an independent commission” to protect net neutrality principles.
Wheeler, who is also Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is facing calls to step down over the past year after the Trump Administration put a hold on the FCC rule that would have prevented internet service providers from blocking and throttling content, including video.
Wheeler told reporters he would consider a “no” vote to remove the rule if the administration failed to reach a deal with Congress.
“This is the only way we can keep the Internet open and protect the public interest and preserve the free flow of information,” he said.
“It’s the only thing we can have to protect the Internet.
And I believe the American people understand that.
They want to have an open internet.
We want to keep the internet open.
And that’s why I’m here today.”
“I will do everything in my power to preserve and protect net-neutrality protections and ensure the future success of the Internet,” Wheeler added.
Wheeler did not address the fact that his own Republican colleagues have been calling for him to step aside, as well as the fact he has not publicly released his plans for the agency.
However, Wheeler’s remarks on Tuesday did not directly address his potential departure.
He is currently in the process of being sworn in to his new post as Chairman of FCC, which is up for reelection next year.