FCC commissioner joins Comcast

FCC Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker, fresh from approving the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, is leaving her post to take a job at Comcast. It's O.K. because it's transparent. [NYT]


  1. These days the filthy pigs don’t even bother to cast a veil of modesty over the scene when they’re shitting in our faces…

    Corruption in western governments definitely seems to be getting more blatant… our frog is reaching the boil.

    1. I’m not a huge fan of your frog analogy; when the frog is started in cold water that heats up gradually, the frog is cooked to death.

      1. Yeah, that’s the point. It isn’t alarmed by the heat and doesn’t hop out. Toss a frog in hot water (or so goes the thinking) and it’ll hop out quick. Heat it up slowly, however, and it’ll stay there until it’s dead.

        1. The point, of course, being that gradual, incremental change in the direction toward evil or chaos or societal ruin doesn’t alarm people into action the way that sudden, violent shifts do. As long as people have their iPods and American Idol and some bland assurances that they’re being kept safe from the terrorists, they’ll happily sign away every last one of their hard-won privacies and liberties… just don’t do it all in the same week.

    2. Agreed, but I fear the frog is already cooked. It barely even noticed the building heat while watching TV through the glassware.

    1. this is nothing but bribery on a layaway plan

      More than that – at the scale all this bullshit operates on, it’s fascism.

  2. I agree this is a problem, as it is in financial regulation or military procurement or any other number of other government regulative functions. I have some sympathy for the government employees, though. If they want to leave government, where are they qualified to work other than in the industry they’ve been regulating?

    1. Perhaps the industry they’ve been regulating is the best spot for them to apply their skills…

      But this isn’t just the same industry, it’s the same friggin’ company!

  3. If they want to leave government, where are they qualified to work other than in the industry they’ve been regulating?
    With no salable skills, little natural talent, or ability to work, I think that another make work position is perfect for these people.

    BTW, anybody know why the Arizona shooter went after the governor instead of one of these revolving door regulators, or a Goldman Sux CEO?

    1. No need to tar all government employees. Baker was a political appointment, and a scumbag telecom lobbyist before that. Not that it’s right, but she’s going back to wallow in the same cesspool she wallowed in before. In this instance, the problem was with appointing a scumbag telecom lobbyist as a regulator in the first place.

    2. The Arizona shooter was crazy. No significance whatsoever can be inferred from his choice of victim, although you seem to be making a larger point that escapes me.

  4. Perhaps the industry they’ve been regulating is the best spot for them to apply their skills…

    But this isn’t just the same industry, it’s the same friggin’ company!

    That’s a good point. Even if it is completely ethical, the players should at least know it looks bad. And of course, it may not be ethical, though I usually give people the benefit of the doubt.

  5. FWIW, the pharmaceutical industry (which I am normally not prone to bashing) is also full of this sort of thing, when it’s members aren’t engaging in group clusterfucking and swapping of the same 20 or so top execs between themselves via mergers, spinoffs, acquisitions, etc.

    It’s one thing if you’re Joe Dayjob at a government agency and you apply your skills in a private sector job afterwards in a related field.

    Here, it’s beyond obvious that a politico is being rewarded for brokering a deal–and probably has her ducks in a row back on the FCC side in order to keep pushing through whatever she wants legislation-wise.

    Totally nauseating.

    What Kimmo said (and said very well).

  6. Check out the action from Indiana. Duke Energy, which is developing a coal gasification plant that is a posting a $1 billion cost overrun, keeps hiring lawyers from the IURC, Indiana Utility Regulation Commission. Not surprisingly, Duke wants the IURC to approve passing along the cost overruns to the consumers. There’s also a list somewhere online that shows all the coal industry contributions to the governor’s last election campaign.

  7. This particular event (Meredith Attwell Baker conducting the people’s business as part of obtaining rich employment) should really be the straw on the camel’s back. The lobbyist system, at the national level at least, has become one of the greatest dangers to representative government in the states. It is the most overt catalyst to ongoing plutocracy there is. Strict regulation, as unlikely as that is among the priests of Reaganism and the current supreme court, is our only hope.

    Writing your congress-critters with words to this effect is the least we all should be doing.

  8. Here, it’s beyond obvious that a politico is being rewarded for brokering a deal–and probably has her ducks in a row back on the FCC side in order to keep pushing through whatever she wants legislation-wise.

    There are actually are ethics rules governing these sorts of situations, and criminal sanctions are possible under 18 USC §207 if she does directly leverage her FCC contacts to push rules (agencies do not legislate) through or get advantageous decisions or enforcement.

    As a lawyer, she’s also subject to her jurisdiction’s equivalent of Rule 1.11.

    While this has terrible optics and could conceivably have been a violation of 1.11(d)(2)(ii), I’m not sure how y’all would like to solve this kind of problem. How do you expect appointments to agency positions to be done? Do you expect to get high-quality candidates if we require them to take a significant pay cut for a temporary job where they serve at the pleasure of the President, and are foreclosed from finding employment in that field forever after?

    1. …sure there are laws, but who’s going to enforce them? the fox isn’t guarding the hen house, the fox *runs* the hen house now.

      For the corporation,
      By the corporation,
      In the corporation we trust.

    2. By properly reforming the tax system in the United States and using the money to offer government employees a better wage? Why shouldn’t the soon-to-be Comcast exec making millions fund the government’s ability to make sure that her successor is of a higher caliber (and perhaps, superior moral fiber) than she was?

    3. This is the dog that everyone waves when people’s eyes fall out of their sockets at the obvious backscratching that goes on in government regulatory agencies.

      Well, you know what, I’d rather have the average joe in that job who has no hope of gaining a cushy job once his/her time in the govt is over. Because strange as it may sound, there would be no trouble getting all the citizen politicians, regulators and any other type of government job you like for any branch of government.

      I’d rather have them be uninformed at the start and have to elicit information from a variety of sources than have someone from the very industry that will bow down to them.

      The argument (inevitably announced by the very folks under suspicion) that it takes tons of money and the promise of a cushy post-position job is false.

      It would take only 1 minor law to ensure that the government could get any number of citizens to volunteer for any position – after service they have to by law get their same job back. That’s it.

      1. I’d rather have them be uninformed at the start and have to elicit information from a variety of sources than have someone from the very industry that will bow down to them.

        Hmm. Our term-limit law here in California had roughly that effect. (It also limits staff as well as officeholders, lest ‘permanent staffers’ become an unelected government).

        So guess where all the new, uninformed freshman legislators got the information they needed?

        From lobbyists, of course.

        I mean, who else in Sacramento knows where all the bodies are buried?

        And of course, many of those lobbyists are the same termed-out legislators and staffers that term limits were supposed to remove.

        Only now, they can’t be voted out of office.

        That’s how we got our disastrous energy deregulation bill. A freshman legislator who wanted to make a name for himself figured if he could produce a bill that satisfied all the lobbyists, from the energy companies to the ratepayer advocates to the Sierra Club, why, it would be just perfect, wouldn’t it?

        Unfortunately there wasn’t a lobbyist for ‘a stable, reliable, uninterrupted flow of power, even if it’s not necessarily the cheapest or most profitable or cleanest possible system.’

        And the stopgap measure they included as a nod in that direction was so easily gamed it was pathetic.

        And thus, Enron.

        Having the ignorant “elicit information from a variety of sources” may not be the cure-all you seem to imagine.

  9. Here, with no pride of ownership, is what i just rambled off to my congress folks:

    Dear Honorable ___,

    The recent departure of a top FCC regulator Meredith Attwell Baker (cf http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/f-c-c-commissioner-to-join-comcast/ ) for a high paying position at Comcast just months after she voted to approve a merger between Comcast and NBC is surely the most disgusting indicator in a broken system of separation of public good against private interest. The lobbying institution is broken, their privileged access to congress has become a danger, and the supreme court (via Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) has been proven all but purchased by the likes of the Koch brothers.

    This apparently alarmist view is really not that unusual once one departs the beltway and talks with the electorate. We believe we are fast becoming a plutocracy.

    There were checks against this situation in the past. I would beg that your offices consider attempting to restore some of these wise protections. Just to mention a few: strong regulations against federal workers becoming revolving door lobbyists; reestablish the protections assured by the Sherman Antitrust Act; work to pass a law to defuse the terrible aspects of the Citizens United ruling; and where-ever possible to support the precepts of Net Neutrality and the protection of free and unbaised communication for an informed electorate.

    Thank you for your consideration blah-blah…

    here’s hoping that some poor intern manages to read through the first paragraph

    1. Perhaps we could make it illegal to accept a position within some period of time (18 months?) with a company one directly regulated or otherwise worked on.

      Or maybe we could simply make whatever approval a company who hires a regulator under such circumstances null and void, and make said company pay the full bill for re-approval.

  10. “Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every once in a while then a layer of scum floats to the top.”

    Edward Abbey

  11. Why aren’t I surprised?

    The sad fact is that they are bound by law (and accounting rules,) to try to gab as much cash as they can out of our pockets before they are relegated to a regulated infrastructure.

    That’s not making an excuse for their lack of foresight, well okay that lack of vision is behind all of this crap. but they are bound, literally bound by legal obligation to take the short term view..

  12. As a government employee I’m prohibited through written agreement from working for any business I worked with at my govt job for two years. I’m glad to see those baby boomers pushing ahead forming new policy. I should have very lucrative “retirement” opportunites very soon indeed.

  13. Is this really any kind of surprise? The gift$ and donation$ given to other judges are bit more difficult to connect but they are just as coincidental. Federal judges given BP stock? Judges buying new BMW with cash in relation to the ENRON scandal and Qwest investigation? Yup, purely conicidental.

  14. Ah yes, transparency…when the corruption is clear to see. Maybe she can sleep at night, but karma is a b*tch. This makes Comcast look bad. Maybe bad enough to boycott. As I said, karma is a b*tch.

    1. Yeah but that company is getting so huge it’s getting impossible to boycott them. I mean they are GE, Comcast, NBC, etc etc. That’s of course the same GE that pays no taxes.

      1. That’s of course the same GE that pays no taxes.

        Unsurprisingly, GE disputes that assertion.

        Yeah, yeah, I know. Big evil corporation. Buncha liars. Can’t trust a word they say. Always coming up with complex explanations in complicated legalese instead of the simple answers that simple minds demand. I know, I know.

        (Do note, though, that I didn’t say, “You’re wrong.” I said “GE disputes that.” You want to argue, argue with them, not me.)

  15. I’ve been itching to switch ISP’s. I’m not paying comquack to spy on and threaten me (“alleged copyright infringement”).

    I think I’ll let this be the last nail in the coffin, and start making some calls this weekend.

  16. According to the article, she signed Obama’s ethics pledge. As such, she cannot lobby political appointees at the FCC or executive level agencies for some amount of time.

    Why would Comcast/NBC hire someone whose lobbying power is so restricted? And why hire that person at the Vice President level? Unless her title and salary are payment for services already rendered…

    How great would it be if Anonymous went to work on this? I’ll bet they could uncover a trail of collusion and corruption a mile wide.

  17. DAN: We’re joinin’ America. And it’s full of lyin’, thievin’ cock-suckers that you can’t trust at all — governors, comissioners and whatnot. By God, that’s just the new way of things. And you just gonna have to get used to it, Johnny.

    JOHHNY: All right.

    DAN: You gonna have to accept it and learn to control yourself.

    Deadwood, Season 2; Ep. 1: “A Lie Agreed Upon, Pt. 1”, by David Milch

  18. Just cancel your Comcast cable. If everybody does it, they will go out of business. If they’re a monopoly in your area, just get satellite, and buy DSL internet from the phone company. Sure, it’s not right, but if we can’t fix the FCC, we can do something. I already canceled cable, and I don’t miss it.

  19. Wait, you mean you think that a former FCC commissioner might have some value to a broadcast TV network as senior vice president for government affairs, even if she can’t lobby the FCC?

    Nahhh, that couldn’t be true. Must just be corrupt scumbaggery.

    1. Well it is scumbaggery, actually. She approves a hotly contested and controversial merger and now it appears that the reason she did so was because she was promised a high-paying gig at the new company.

  20. Oh my. She’s got a lovely bunch of coconuts, hasn’t she? Glad the tax payers could pitch in and get her a nice going away gift from her gov’t post…

  21. i dont know if this is a coincidence or not but comcast started blocking access to thepiratebay almost immediately after this happened

  22. Quite simply, thanks to the inventions of Bush & Co., their predecessors, and the support of both parties, this is The Age of Institutionalized Corruption.

    1. True, when they don’t even bother to hide corruption anymore and there’s no repercussions (only benefits)… then it’s most certainly institutionalized.

      But, hey.. why not? What are any weak American citizens of this worst generation going to do about it?


      It’s what the worst generation in American history is best at.

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