Heard on the Hill

Flashback Friday: ‘A Series of Tubes’

Here’s a phrase from the past that you might not know the story behind

The late Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens once described the internet as “a series of tubes.” (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Here’s a congressional throwback — a phrase or part of Capitol Hill culture that a younger generation of Hill staffers may not know or appreciate.

‘A series of tubes’

Why do people sometimes talk about the “tubes” of the internet? Well, it dates back to the late Sen. Ted Stevens, who once used the term to express his opposition to net neutrality.

“The internet is not something that you just dump something on, it’s not a big truck, it’s, it’s a series of tubes,” the Alaska Republican explained in June 2006.

Stevens was ridiculed for his analogy. The clip spawned a remix, and comedian Jon Stewart said on his Comedy Central show at the time, “That might have sounded more like something you’d hear from, let’s say, a crazy old man at an airport bar at 3 a.m. than the chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.”

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