Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What Health Care Reform and Media Mergers Have in Common

Here is an interesting little factoid you're not hearing much about in the wake of the announced merger of NBC and Comcast. According to Mike Flyyn, Editor-in-Chief at Breitbart, just one day after the two media giants announced their deal, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts is throwing his support behind the Senate Democrats’ health care reform bill.

Why is this significant? Could it be because Comcast has about 100,000 employees? Gotta bet health care costs already have a big impact on that balance sheet. Is Roberts’ letter to the president in support of the Democrats’ policy the best, first action to take in the year-long regulatory review process?

Here's why this matters:
This is a very public stance on an issue "with absolutely no relevance to the vast intricacies of the merger, but a move that sets a new standard for blatant pandering aimed at a group of people for whom pandering is the new coin of the realm," according to Flynn's editorial this morning. I think he's spot-on. And Roberts isn't the only CEO apparently greasing the skids for the uber-merger:

Recall that congressional Democrats are strongly opposed to further consolidation in the media sector. Roberts must also be aware that the Obama Administration has expressed its intent to fight large scale mergers that would concentrate power over television, cable and the internet in a few huge companies.

GE CEO Jeff Immelt has also been among Mr. Obama’s biggest corporate cheerleaders. Why? Flynn speculates it could be an eagerness to see more government help in the credit realm--which would vastly benefit GE Capital--and to continue those generous government handouts for wind turbines in which GE is heavily invested.

Mr. Immelt has already pledged his support for Obamacare, and if the NBC/Comcast marriage is consumated, GE stands to win a huge influx of cash.

The Obamian administration has made clear its desire to limit consolidation, to demand internet transparency, to fight cross-ownership of media outlets, and to “reinvigorate” anti-trust enforcement they claim was ignored by the Bush White House.

Flynn notes that "if you are about to march into the lion’s den it makes perfect sense to toss a side of beef in beforehand. The White House has shown itself willing to sell out to any special interest willing to help them slather lipstick on the health “reform” pig which would impact one sixth of the nation’s economy."

They're calling this a "high-profile test case." The test may not be whether laws or regulations exist that stand in the way of the Comcast-NBC deal. Rather, the litmus paper will reveal how the Obamian administration and Senate Democrats handle the investigation and scrutiny of this transaction; the results could reveal just how much political pandering can buy you under Washington’s current power structure.

It's not the first time this has been tried. This is not news. What you need to be paying attention to is that this administration promised to be different--change we could believe in, especially in their level of integrity and transparency.
So far, sanctimony has outrun reality.

Will Roberts' and Immelt's tactics result in smooth sailing for the NBC/Comcast deal? Are Democrats going to unleash the scathing attacks you would expect were they still in the minority?

Mike Flynn wonders aloud, correctly, whether they will "stand up for their (misguided, anti-free market, pro-government control) principles or will they sell out cheap, like they have on cap and trade, health care, Afghanistan and other issues... when the special interests come calling with an offer of friendship?"

Change, indeed.

1 comment:

Jim Koontz said...

Amen, Brent, I feel that you are spot on and based on what has just happened with the Cornhusker Kickback, I think the deal will sail through regulatory review unscathed.

Jim K