1. Comcast: Turning Enemies Into Friends
The mind reels. Coincidentally, it reels in perfect synchronicity with the revolving door in Washington D.C., where an FCC commissioner has accepted a job with Comcast (CMCSA - Get Report) -- less than four months after voting to approve its merger with NBC Universal.
Meredith Attwell Baker, a Republican from Texas, will be leaving the Federal Communications Commission next month, when her term ends, taking a spin through that door and sitting down almost immediately in what is surely the plushest of leather seats behind the desk belonging to NBC Universal's "senior vice president for governmental affairs." That's perfect: Although she signed an ethics pledge upon her appointment by President Barack Obama two years ago that complicates or slows her lobbying co-workers at the FCC or other agencies, she's free to go after members of Congress.
The job swapping between politics and lobbying happens with such regularity that it takes something extraordinary to draw the kind of attention Attwell Baker is sure to get, if only because it also focuses attention on Obama, who's probably smacking his forehead or grinding his teeth in remembrance of Obama the candidate swearing to "close the revolving door."Instead he's inadvertently given the world a new standard for sleaze. While Attwell Baker was in office for a couple of years and her legacy included fighting against Net neutrality -- Comcast is the nation's largest provider of residential broadband Internet -- and for the Comcast merger. (It was a 4-1 vote, with only Democrat Michael Copps resisting.) Michael Powell, former chairman of the FCC, was quick to offer praise, though, in a statement released Wednesday with alarming promptness. "Meredith has been a great friend for many years and an outstanding public servant, as she has served with honor and integrity," said Powell, who after his time with the FCC became president and CEO of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, an industry lobbyist.