A Washington Free Beacon report led to HBO comedian John Oliver pleading with viewers Sunday to cease making any racist and obscene remarks as part of a net neutrality campaign he is leading.
Oliver invited viewers on his May 7 broadcast of "Last Week Tonight" to flood the FCC's website with comments about the potential end of Obama-era net-neutrality regulations. His show created the colorful URL gofccyourself.com, which takes users straight to the FCC page to let their displeasure be known.
The Free Beacon‘s Elizabeth Harrington reported that the campaign spearheaded by Oliver's report resulted in racist and obscene messages directed toward FCC chairman Ajit Pai. She discussed the story with Fox Business host Neil Cavuto last week, saying it was wrong to call the movement "grassroots."
"So John Oliver is calling this a grassroots campaign. He is asking—he has about four million viewers—to flood the FCC website with comments," Harrington said. "It's not really surprising that you have a lot of vulgar, obscene, and downright racist comments when John Oliver himself is calling this campaign ‘Go FCC Yourself.'"
In a web exclusive posted on Sunday, Oliver played the clip of Harrington and then muttered, "Yes, I did do that" when the show threw back to him.
"Unfortunately, she's right about something there," Oliver said. "There were some racist comments on there. Let me just say, if any of those came from anyone who watches this show, stop it! Do not fucking do that! Writing racist things on the Internet is not how you win the net neutrality debate. It's how you win the presidency."
He added that any commenters supporting his campaign should leave comments in a "civil, clear fashion."
Many comments centered on attacking Pai's heritage:
Pai also received death threats in several submissions. One commenter said, "[F]—k you Ajit Pai for what you're are trying to do and I hope you die a horrible painful death with no remembrance to your name you cocksucka [sic]."
Another said failure to keep net neutrality would "cause me to pray for the slow and painful death of Chairman Ajit Pai and every living member of his family, direct or indirect."
"Save internet and fuck this Ajit guy," said another. "He's from India, deport that asshole. We will take care of him when he's back."
Other comments used racial attacks against Pai, the son of Indian immigrants.
"Can you guys stop being complete greedy little s–ts and work for the American people and not for your wallets," said one commenter using the name " Andromeda Titan." "Also, f–k you Ajit Pai (a disgrace to all Indians). And f–k Trump too."
Another commenter said, "Ajit Pai looks and sounds like an Indian fraternity brother who exclusively f–ks underage women."
Harrington called the movement "astroturf" and noted that thousands of comments used fake names and were bots posing as "Jesus Christ," "Homer Simpson" and "Michael Jackson."
Oliver also played the clip in his segment, acknowledging "it is undeniably true that some people tried to mess with the comments."
"To listen to one conservative writer, that is reason enough to discount all of them," Oliver said.
Oliver showed one person claiming to be "Michael Jackson" who said he lived at "420 Buthole [sic] Street."
"Clearly, clearly, she is right," Oliver said of Harrington, "some comments on the site were faked."