A.W.O.L on Comcast/NBC Merger: Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz, Matthews


--I heard the news today, oh boy, About a lucky man who made the grade...He blew his mind out in a car, He didn't notice that the lights had changed..-- (Sgt Pepper, The Beatles, 1967)

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 triggered a wave of media ownership consolidation.

You will, of course, remember the vigorous debate on that bill, recounted night-after-night on the major news programs, regaled even more on the "pundit" shows of the time, and consuming nearly all the air-time on the Sunday blabberfests? And , recall getting tired of 60 Minutes running this story week after week after week?

You don't remember?....well, not to worry, you are not suffering memory loss or suppressing a painful experience.

You do not remember it because the major networks and cable operators who stood to gain financially from this bad policy said virtually nothing about it. Their "independent" newsrooms reported next to nothing about it. There were no "round-tables" discussing its merits. I believe I recall ABC's Ted Koppel, who hosted Nightline that prided itself on covering stories in depth and without apology for ruffling feathers, being asked whether he supported the bill, and giving a rather lame "yes, it is valuable to my network" answer. If you knew about it at all, it was because you watched C-SPAN at some ungodly hour. [And, to be completely fair, Olbermann-Maddow-Schultz-Matthews were not on the air in 1996).

When it came to Citizens United--the recent decision by the Supreme Court that found the original intent of the Founders was to grant Constitutional personhood to corporations, creatures of the State--Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz and Matthews were intensely concerned about its implications. They covered the case, the aftermath, and periodically follow-up with reports of Congressional efforts to blunt its effects or overturn it by Constitutional Amendment.

Enter, Comcast/NBC Universal. Comcast is the nation's largest cable operator, and NBC Universal one of the major content creators. Comcast wants to purchase NBC Universal from General Electric. MSNBC and CNBC are part of NBC Universal and would become owned by Comcast.

Where is the coverage Rachel? Ed? Olbermann? Matthews? Where is the outrage over increased media concentration and corporate control? Where is the exposé of Comcast's past egregious actions? (For a chronicle of those, see, e.g., Josh Silver's article,"Senator Franken Rips Into Comcast CEO Brian Roberts", February 5, 2010).

Just to provide a taste--Comcast opposes Net Neutrality, and has already tried to violate it on its own. It lavishes money on Members of Congress, and packs FCC hearing rooms with paid "supporters". Brian Roberts lied to Senator Franken right in his office about the FCC protecting consumers against price increases while his lawyers argued it was unconstitutional.

So where are Olbermann, Maddow, Schultz and Matthews? How can they, as they all rightly have, extol the virtues of a Wendell Potter (former insurance executive who outed his industry during the healthcare reform debate), and yet sit idly without investigating and reporting the dire implications of Comcast owning NBC Universal?

The deafening silence from this quartet is all the testimony needed to show why this merger is...very bad news, indeed. . 

To All in the Professionally Angry - Easily Offended Club:

Can't you surmise that your President is human? Well, in the immortal words of Steve Martin: "Well excuuuuuuuuse Meeee!!!" What do you want from the guy? I know people expect him to have a halo and shoot thunderbolts from his butt; however, walking on water must be reserved for saving the economy, and not for role modelism.

There's more...


AP is up to its old tricks. Here's their latest headline on President Obama's budget:

GOP predicts doomsday if Obama budget passed

While predictably using the sky is falling point of view of the Republicans in the headline, the article documents the they said/they said back and forth between Republicans and the administration on the feasibility and effectiveness of President Obama's budget.

Congressional Republicans on Sunday predicted a doomsday scenario of crushing debt and eventual federal bankruptcy if President Barack Obama's massive spending blueprint wins passage.

But a White House adviser dismissed the negative assessments, saying she is "incredibly confident" that the president's policies will "do the job" for the economy.

In the end, as Joe Biden's economic advisor, Jared Bernstein said on Meet The Press today, the administration is open to working with congress but they've clearly laid out the minimum they'll accept in any budget presented to the president for signature.

Vice President Joe Biden's economic adviser said the administration was open to negotiate with lawmakers. "We don't expect these folks to sign on the dotted line," Jared Bernstein said.

However, he added, "What we do expect and what we are going to stand very firm on, because this president, this vice president have made this clear, that there are these priorities that brought them to the dance here: energy reform, health care reform, education, all done in the context of a budget that cuts the deficit in half over our first term."

The president is on 60 Minutes tonight to further make the case for his budget. It's on out west in a few minutes. Did you see it earlier tonight? Are you watching it? What do you think?

There's more...

60 Minutes blows the lid off Israel's dilemma

Time Running Out For A Two-State Solution? is the title of a 60 Minutes segment shown this Sunday focused on the growing number of Israelis and Palestinians who say that a two-state solution is no longer viable. And the sources of this dilemma were laid out for all to see.

For years, Americans were left in the dark about the reality of Israel's military occupation and its colonization of Palestinian lands that is still taking place. It has now created a dilemma for Israel that can only lead, for it, to undesirable consequences: 1) merging into a single democratic state with Israelis and Palestinians living together, i.e., give up the dream of the Jewish state; 2) ethnically cleanse the remaining Palestinians (those who are not already refugees from the ethnic cleansing of 1948) and risk international opprobrium; and 3) create an apartheid system, where Israel continues to control the lives of the Palestinians crowded into Bantustan-like enclaves in the Palestinian territories. The stark reality leaves few choices for Israel. As Bob Simon indicated, apartheid regimes are short lived.

There's more...

What "60 Minutes" Didn't Tell You About Wilmington, Ohio

Tonight, the TV newsmagazine "60 Minutes"did a story on the economic crisis facing Wilmington, Ohio, a town of 12,000 people nearly all of whom are being laid off by freight corporation DHL.  If you missed the heartrending segment, you can watch it here.

Here's what Scott Pelley of "60 Minutes" didn't tell you: there's a promising local effort to help the people of Wilmington -- and there are a few things you can do to help their plan become a reality without getting up from your computer.

There's more...


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