Jimmy Kimmel Wades Into Politics Again and Misleads His Viewers Along the Way
Late-night host Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday deleted a video clip from Twitter and YouTube that falsely informed viewers that a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule would force them to pay hundreds of dollars to complain to the FCC.
“The FCC is considering a plan that would require U.S. citizens to pay $225 to make a complaint. So, if you’re mad about how high your cable bill is, soon you can pay the government $225 to complain about it,” the host of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” told his viewers Wednesday night.
“Boy, they really have the fingers on the pulse of us, don’t they? It’s shameless, really. Time and time again this administration, they side with the big corporations over people,” the comedian riffed. He then acted out a skit in which a coffee shop customer had to pay $225 to complain about a barista spitting in his drink.
But Kimmel appears to have botched the facts.
Americans aren’t charged to file informal complaints through the FCC Consumer Complaint Center, a fact that won’t change under any rule being considered by the FCC.
It also already costs $225 for consumers to file a formal complaint—a process the FCC describes as similar to a court proceeding—and the proposed language change wouldn’t have affected that, either.
Kimmel blamed the current FCC for pre-existing policies, while misrepresenting how those policies work. His critique was similar to Democratic talking points about the rule change—talking points that The Washington Post found clashed with the facts. (The Post also noted Thursday that the FCC appears to be backing off the change for now.)
Kimmel tweeted out a video of the segment on Thursday but later deleted it from Twitter following complaints about the segment’s inaccuracy. Kimmel’s show also removed the clip from its official YouTube channel.
An ABC spokesperson did not return a request for comment regarding Kimmel’s misinformation and the deleted videos.
“The actual FCC item itself isn’t that interesting; it doesn’t actually change the informal complaint process. The firestorm around it is based on a misunderstanding that started with the letter from some congressional Dems to the FCC,” Joe Kane, a technology policy fellow with the R Street Institute, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Lots of news sites (starting with the now-updated Verge piece, I think) seized on that letter’s misunderstanding that consumers would have to pay $225 for a complaint. It basically just became a thing for reporters who already don’t like the chairman to paint him as anti-consumer. But again, that’s really not what’s happening,” Kane said.
The issue in question is Footnote 14 of the report and order that talks about the change in the FCC’s complain process. There is currently a process for informal complaints, which, even before this change, were basically just forwarded to the company you have a complaint about. If the company obviously resolves it, then the matter is done. If they don’t, then you move to the formal complaint process. The old language says that the escalation to formal complaint can happen if the person making the complaint is unhappy with how the company or the commission has resolved the issue. The change is to cut the language about the commission resolving the issue because the FCC doesn’t do the resolving of informal complaints.
“The long and short of it is both the old and new rules say you can file an informal complaint, and if you don’t like how it turns out, you can file a formal complaint. Nothing that substantive is changing,” Kane concluded. “There might be good reason for the FCC to clarify their footnote and the language in the updated reg to resolve some of this confusion, but it definitely doesn’t warrant the outcry that some people are making about it.”
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