Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

FCC Commissioner Cashes in at Your Expense

Tim Karr

 by Save the Internet

Federal Communications Commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker will reportedly depart the agency in June to occupy a corner office at Comcast-NBC -- the company whose multi-billion mega-merger she approved just months ago.

In so doing she joins a long line of "public servants" who have spun government jobs into gold at the expense of the American people they're supposed to represent.

Many have found the FCC to be a particularly lucrative launching pad. Former FCC Chairman Michael Powell now earns millions as the top lobbyist for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, a trade group that lobbies for the industry he was tasked to regulate.

Commissioner Baker's move to Comcast comes less than four months after she voted to approve the cable giant's takeover of NBC Universal. As recently as March, she gave a speech lamenting that the agency's review of the Comcast-NBC deal "took too long."

"What we didn't know then was that she was in such a rush to start picking out the drapes in her new corner office," Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement after news of Baker's new job broke.

With behavior like this it's little wonder that American people are so nauseated by business as usual in Washington. Inside the Beltway, the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows. Outside of Washington, people of every political stripe have expressed near unanimous contempt for a system of government that favors powerful corporations at the expense of the many.

A Pew Research Center aggregate poll finds public trust in government to have reached a 30-year low, dipping beneath 20 percent. With shameless moves like Baker's it's surprising that trust is that high.

The continuously revolving door at the FCC and across all DC agencies continues to erode any prospects for common-sense public policy... the kind that's supposed to promote the general welfare and not simply line the pockets of DC careerists.

Let's hope that her replacement will be someone who is not just greasing the skids for their next industry job. (Don't hold your breath).

Coincidentally, this news came on the same day that another massive corporation was working the halls of Capitol Hill for approval of its merger.

A Wednesday Senate subcommittee hearing on AT&T's proposed takeover of T-Mobile had CEO Randall Stephenson glad handing members of Congress and the FCC for approval of a deal many inside Washington see as inevitable despite a growing public outcry.

The outcry is well justified. As GigaOM's Stacey Higginbotham detailed, there is very good reason to believe that regulators are ill prepared to conceive of the impact the AT&T merger would have on everyday cellphone users. They're working from an old playbook, one where Beltway manipulators like AT&T's team of lobbyists know how to work the refs.

But DC isn't worried about doing right, right now. The head of the company that makes more political contributions than any other -- and spends tens of millions on lobbyists each year -- has graced our capital with his presence.

The only question on the minds of many is how to press a resume into Stephenson's hands before he wraps his visit and returns to AT&T headquarters.


Tim Karr

Tim Karr

Timothy Karr is the senior director of strategy at Free Press Action, where he builds on the organization’s grassroots and policy work to promote universal access to open networks, rethink the future of journalism and protect free speech in the United States and abroad.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Intentional Vandalism' Leaves Thousands Without Power in North Carolina

One right-wing extremist implied that multiple electrical substations were targeted to disrupt a drag show in Moore County. Local law enforcement authorities and the FBI are investigating.

Kenny Stancil ·


GOP Silence on Trump's Call to Axe Constitution Reveals 'Full Embrace of Fascism': House Dem

"Last week the leader of the Republican Party had dinner with a Nazi leader and a man who called Adolf Hitler 'great,'" said Rep. Bill Pascrell. "Yesterday Trump called for throwing out the Constitution and making himself dictator."

Kenny Stancil ·


Protesting Fuel Poverty, People Tell UK Government to 'Keep Everyone Warm This Winter'

As energy bills—and fossil fuel profits—continue to soar, demonstrators around Britain demanded immediate action from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and members of Parliament.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Turn Off the Tap on Plastic,' UN Chief Declares Amid Debate Over New Global Treaty

"Plastics are fossil fuels in another form," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, "and pose a serious threat to human rights, the climate, and biodiversity."

Kenny Stancil ·


EPA Urged to 'Finish the Job' After Latest Move to Protect Bristol Bay From Pebble Mine

"Local residents, scientists, and the broader public all agree that this is quite simply a bad place for a mine, and it is past time for the EPA to take Pebble off the table permanently," said one activist in Alaska.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo