One of these days…
As many of you may well know FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker has left the FCC and taken a cushy job with the newly formed Comcast/NBC after having very recently ruled in favor of the merger of the two companies.
Adding insult to injury:
At the link there is a REFERENCE to a petition at the Free Press which requests Darrell Issa to investigate this. That’s a laugh. Issa isn’t about to investigate this.
Daily Show mocks FCC’s Baker for taking Comcast job
By Nate Anderson
The antics of FCC officials don’t generally make their way into the mass media, but FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker has managed the feat. Turns out, it’s easy enough to do: just announce that you are leaving the FCC to take a senior government affairs job with Comcast/NBC.
Last night, The Daily Show had a segment on the move, which comes only months after Baker voted for the mega-media buyout and excoriated those who wanted to slap too many conditions on it. Called “Well, That Was Fast,” the segment wasn’t especially funny but it did manage to make a studio audience reflexively boo an FCC Commissioner—something you don’t see every day.
It’s not just The Daily Show expressing opposition to Baker’s move. Free Press, Public Citizen, and Credo have joined forces to circulate a petition asking for a Congressional investigation of Baker. As of this morning, that petition has gathered 114,000 electronic signatures.
If Baker thought her FCC departure would go unnoticed, she’s surely been disabused of the notion by now. In the last week, Baker has been pilloried on TV, slammed on the Internet, and attacked in print—with major papers like The New York Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer shaking their heads in disapproval.
The Inquirer piece was particularly interesting, since Comcast is based in Philadelphia. “There’s something particularly unsettling about a regulatory official who voted only four months ago to approve the $13.75 billion merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal turning around to take a high-profile job with that firm,” said the paper recently. “It’s troubling even to those of us who were happy to see locally based Comcast bring home the gold.”
“Perhaps if Baker had put more time between her two jobs it wouldn’t seem as bad. As it is, the move threatens to further undermine public confidence in the government’s ability to make objective decisions that put ordinary citizens’ interests first.”
Baker has fought back, saying in a statement last Friday that she had checked with FCC lawyers before considering the job and had stayed out of FCC business since the offer arrived. Though a Republican, Attwell Baker did sign the Obama administration pledges that bar her from lobbying the FCC for two years, and she is bound by various agreements on lobbying made by Comcast as part of its NBC buyout. Still, she is free to lobby Congress and to oversee Comcast/NBC’s DC lobbying shop.
Little will likely be done to halt the move unless Congress decides to investigate. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, which would investigate the FCC. I asked his office whether Issa was considering an investigation or whether he thought the entire controversy overblown.
“We’re aware of the situation and we are monitoring it closely,” I was told.