Quid pro quo over at the FCC and Comcast

May 13, 2011 | By | 10 Replies More

It’s time to investigate FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who voted for the Comcast merger with NBC only a few months ago, but is now leaving the FCC to become a lobbyist for Comcast. This is outrageous. Three words: Quid pro quo. She should headed for prison, not soaking up a big lobbyist salary at the expense of United States citizens.

Here’s some low-hanging fruit federal investigators. Let’s see if they do the right thing, or if they do anything at all.

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Category: Corruption, Media

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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  1. Erich Vieth says:

    "[Meredith Atwell Baker] stood out among the FCC’s five commissioners for criticizing the merger review process for taking too long. She said the agency attached too many conditions to the deal. Among them, she opposed holding Comcast accountable to Internet access rules and the sharing of content with new online distributors such as Netflix and YouTube. She said those Internet television platforms were too new and that the market for online video was competitive and still forming.

    The deal was approved in January by the FCC and Justice Department, forming a media behemoth that controls a bevy of television and movie assets along with the largest number of U.S. home Internet and cable subscriptions."

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-tech/pos

  2. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Although the latest case, this sort of thing is nothing new. Colin Powell's son, Michael, was appointed to the FCC in 1997, then made chairman under Bush. This year, he took a job as President and CEO of the trade group that represents cable operators. This sort of revolving door politics is distasteful, at a bare minimum, or bribery and corruption at the worst. Explore many, many, more cases like Michael Powell's (he's the "featured revolver")and Meredith Atwell Baker's at opensecrets.org/revolving

  3. Erich Vieth says:

    Because there is sex involved, the networks will prominently cover the corruption of John Ensign, but they give almost no coverage to the compelling story of this post, the corruption of Meredith Attwell Baker, where billions of dollars are at stake and where hundreds of millions of American citizens have been deprived of the free flow of information through a wretched merger of two huge media companies. Can anyone seriously doubt that she had her job tied up at Comcast before she cast her vote on the merger?

    <img src="http://dangerousintersection.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/ensign-small.jpg&quot; alt="Ensign CNN coverage" />

    And notice Baker's rampant dishonesty regarding the meaning of net neutrality. This is political corruption at its worst. Piles of money make people say things this stupid. For the real meaning of net neutrality, see here: <a href="http://dangerousintersection.org/2011/05/09/an-excellent-primer-on-net-neutrality/” target=”_blank”>http://dangerousintersection.org/2011/05/09/an-excellent-primer-on-net-neutrality/

  4. Erich Vieth says:

    Listen to Jon Stewart's audience as Ms. Baker's antics were announced:

    <div style="background-color:#000000;width:520px;"><div style="padding:4px;"><embed src="http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:video:thedailyshow.com:386451&quot; width="512" height="288" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowFullScreen="true" allowScriptAccess="always" base="." flashVars=""></embed><p style="text-align:left;background-color:#FFFFFF;padding:4px;margin-top:4px;margin-bottom:0px;font-family:Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;font-size:12px;">The Daily Show – Well, That Was Fast – Comcast/NBC MergerTags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook</div></div>

    More here at Huffpo: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/megan-tady/meredith

  5. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Matt Taibbi points out the revolving door at the SEC remains in full effect as well. Unsurprisingly, the SEC maintains intimate hiring connections with a law firm (Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr) representing large corporate clients, including Goldman Sachs & others. Incredible numbers of people go back and forth from the firm to work (ostensibly) in enforcement. I wonder why Wall Street enforcement has been so lax lately?

    • Erich Vieth says:

      I see the general strategy: Make the system so convoluted that only insiders can understand it enough to pretend to be the regulators and enforcers. And let government regulators actually function as apprentices, learning (on the government payroll) the skills they will use a few years later (at the big firms) making big money.

      Why bother committing crimes when you have the power to A) change the law so that what you are doing is no longer a crime, or B) convince the government to stop enforcing the laws?

  6. Erich Vieth says:

    Free Press issued this press release regarding Rep Issa'd response:

    WASHINGTON — House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski questioning the conduct of outgoing Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who announced last week she would be leaving the agency to become a lobbyist for Comcast-NBC. Issa’s letter suggested that the FCC’s approval of the Comcast-NBC merger was so closely timed to Baker’s announcement that public trust in the integrity of the Commission had been damaged.

    Since Baker’s announcement, Free Press and CREDO Action have collected more than 130,000 letters seeking a congressional investigation into Baker’s departure and apparent conflict of interest.

    Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

    “We’re pleased to see that Chairman Issa has responded to the many Americans who are deeply troubled by the revolving door between Comcast and the FCC exemplified by Commissioner Baker’s jaw-droppingly fast transition from regulator to lobbyist.

    “We hope this letter is just the start – and that Congress will launch a serious inquiry that goes beyond the five basic questions asked here. As Chairman Issa suggests, the American people deserve to know whether their public servants are truly serving them, or just auditioning for industry jobs. We hope Chairman Issa gives them the investigation they’ve demanded, and the one they deserve.”

    http://www.freepress.net/press-release/2011/5/20/

  7. Erich Vieth says:

    And here's more:

    "David Cohen, Comcast's executive vice president, couldn't escape a grilling by reporters Wednesday over the company's decision to hire Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who just four months ago voted to approve Comcast's takeover of NBCUniversal. Cohen spent nearly all of the question-and-answer session after a Media Institute luncheon address

    http://www.adweek.com/news/television/comcasts-co

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    Free Press is still channeling my outrage over Meredith Attwell Baker's corrupt ways.

    "In a letter sent to the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday, Free Press asked the four remaining commissioners to pledge not to seek employment with either AT&T or T-Mobile, whose multi-billion merger is now under review at the FCC.

    The request follows the departure of FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, who abandoned her position to become a lobbyist for Comcast – after voting to approve that company's merger with NBC Universal just months earlier. The House Government Oversight Committee has launched an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Baker's departure. Her last official day at the Commission is Friday, June 3.

    Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement:

    "If you want to know why the American people are disillusioned and disgusted with Washington, look no further than FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker's decision to leave the FCC to become a lobbyist for Comcast after rubber-stamping the media giant's takeover of NBC. We can no longer ignore the ruinous effect on public policy caused by the revolving door between the FCC and the companies it's supposed to be watching.

    "The proposed takeover of T-Mobile by AT&T-a $39-billion deal that would combine the country's second- and fourth-largest wireless carriers – could be an opportunity to restore the public's confidence in the FCC. We ask the commissioners to stand up and declare that they will not seek nor accept employment from AT&T or T-Mobile directly upon leaving their present posts. We ask for assurance that the FCC's commitment is to the public it serves and not to a big payday from potential future employers.

    "Of course, Baker is not the first government official to accept a paycheck from the industry she was once charged with regulating, and, sadly, she will not be the last. But we hope that through this pledge, the public can at least be confident that deliberations are based not on any future job prospects, but on the agency's actual mandate: whether this deal is truly in the public interest."

    http://www.freepress.net/press-release/2011/6/2/f

    Here's the letter: http://www.freepress.net/resource/open-letter-fcc

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