Sunday, May 15, 2011

FCC Commissioner Approves Merger, Then Goes to Work for NBC-Comcast

FCC Commissioner Approves Merger, Then Goes to Work for NBC-Comcast

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The problem with anticorruption laws in this country is that, as long as you're not in Alabama, there has to be an explicit quid pro quo. So what happens when the corruption in the air is so thick there's just an understanding that if you scratch the back of big corporations, they'll pay somebody to scratch your back. It's a form of corruption so common and so loathed by the people that it has a name that any candidate for the Presidency has to condemn: Washington's Revolving Door.

So the FCC's decision to allow one of the largest television networks to vertically integrate with one of the largest cable providers shouldn't have taken anyone by surprise. And neither should the fact that the Republican on the board of commissioners that approved the ruling, Meredith Attwell Baker, has taken a plum lobbying position for the company for which she did a solid just four months ago.

I'll let Craig Aaron, CEO of Free Press, do the next bit of description:

"As recently as March, Commissioner Baker gave a speech lamenting that review of the Comcast-NBC deal 'took too long.' What we didn't know then was that she was in such a rush to start picking out the drapes in her new corner office.

"No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washington -- where the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows. The continuously revolving door at the FCC continues to erode any prospects for good public policy. We hope -- but won't hold our breath -- that her replacement will be someone who is not just greasing the way for their next industry job."

This is a story that's been told too many times in too many ways. The story seems almost banal, in fact -- just one more instance of the revolving door in Washington. Companies like NBC and Comcast don't even have to break the law in order to buy off the people who are supposed to be acting in the interest of the people. And this kind of garden-variety, almost ubiquitous corruption of our public institutions is made possible by its being "just another day in Washington."

Meredith Attwell Baker, you have done a disservice to your country and shown yourself to be beneath contempt. If there were any justice for the rich and the powerful, you would be in a jail cell right now.

Also, Comcast's press release about the hire. Senior VP of Governmental Affairs, NBC/Universal.

Kyle McSlarrow, President of Comcast/NBCUniversal for Washington, DC, said, “Commissioner Baker is one of the nation’s leading authorities on communications policy and we’re thrilled she’s agreed to head the government relations operations for NBCUniversal. Meredith’s executive branch and business experience along with her exceptional relationships in Washington bring Comcast and NBCUniversal the perfect combination of skills.”

That's executive-speak for "She sure treated us nice instead of doing the job the American people pay her to do."

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