The US of BR: The United States of Banana Republic

F.C.C. Commissioner Leaving to Join Comcast

Four months after the Federal Communications Commission approved the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, one of the commissioners who approved the deal said she would join Comcast to oversee its government affairs office.

Meredith Attwell Baker, a former Commerce Department official who worked on telecommunications issues in George W. Bush’s administration, announced that she would leave the F.C.C. when her term expires at the end of June. At Comcast, she will serve as senior vice president for government affairs for NBC Universal, which Comcast acquired in January.


The government is basically a consortium of major companies with the power to tax, a nuclear arsenal and a huge military. Also, we supposedly vote, but only for candidates approved by the corporations. And I favor capitalism. But this ain't capitalism. It's fascism.


Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.com had a great idea: When a government official leaves their office and joins a company they previously had governance or regulatory power over, their salaries should be taxed at a very, very high rate, say 95% for 5 years.

This kind of corruption is, scratch that, *has* ruined our government and must be stopped by drastic means if necessary. We can no longer expect even highly placed public officials to act out of decency, honor, duty and respect for the public trust.

Fargo, ND

Why is insider trading illegal while what Ms. Baker is doing is not?

We need to stop pretending that we have justice in America.


As a legal remedy, this kind of activity should void the Comcast merger, and prompt inquiries.


Baker has spent her entire career working for the telecommunications industry, first as a lobbyist and now as an executive. "Government regulator" and "FCC commissioner" were just different job titles in an unbroken career trajectory. She's not going back to the private sector; she never left it.

San Diego, CA

This country is a banana republic.

Durham, NC

This is totally the problem with regulatory agencies. (FCC, SEC, NRC, etc.) They are nothing more than placement services for people who are "nice" to the companies they supposedly regulate.

Mitchell Szczepanczyk
Chicago, IL

As blatant as this seems, it's actually small potatoes in the FCC's history. In 1946, then FCC chair Charles Denny (a Democrat!) handed over the TV spectrum to the radio barons CBS, NBC, and the NAB. Within a year of doing so, Denny left the FCC to take a job as an executive for NBC, becoming NBC's general counsel and tripling his own salary. The more things change...

New Haven, CT

And people wonder why today's crony capitalism leaves a bad taste in the mouth?


This is absolutely grotesque. As mentioned above, the merger should be revisited and voided. A conflict of interest is apparent. The time period for non-contact with government after serving these positions should be longer and the list of prohibited people and groups should be longer. Disgraceful.

Bill O'Neil
Cincinnati, OH

When will we citizens rise up en masse and demand the DC elite stop this blatant insider game? IMO, the zeitgeist points to a serious disruption of "peace and tranquility" in this nation (such as it is.) DC elites, can't you operate with decent ethical and moral standard? Oh...wait.

John E Ray

I like Dave's idea. This nullifies the merger. How really convenient for a government employee to oversee the public sector, be in on the approval of a public sector HUGE merger, and then take a private sector job with the resultant company. This is America and Washington at its best.

William LeGro
Los Angeles

So when did she start interviewing for the job? Oh well, it doesn't matter. Only one thing is fully bipartisan inside the Beltway, and that's the revolving door to corruption: bribery disguised as campaign contributions, lobbyists writing the laws, golf trips, government jobs for lobbyists and lobbying jobs for government officials, secret meetings in country clubs and 4-star hotels, and the rest of it. I imagine these people don't think of themselves as corrupt, but of course they are. Oh, and tacky, too. Did I mention sleazy? But hey, just enrobe your corruption, sleaziness and tackiness in the best that money can buy and you'll have Congress beating down your door for invitations.

What's more amazing is that this dimwitted country seems utterly unable to get a handle on the corruption that has completely run away with its political system, and thereby the Constitution and the nation that rests upon it.

Paul M Schwartz, attorney
Berkeley, California

If there is a smell test, this one certainly doesn't pass it. Something smells really rotten here. How can she, in good conscience, vote on one of the biggest media mergers in history, and then take a high paying job (as her likely payoff) from the company seeking the merger? This really destroys a citizen's faith in our government's ability to properly regulate out of control corporate interests. No doubt about it, the corporations control our country, even the Supreme Court. New laws are required to prevent this behaviour and punish it both civilly and criminally, but with corporations basically controlling the Republican party and also controlling the Democratic party to a large extent, these laws will never see the light of day. There is no level playing field. Yet another example of how easily government officials are bought and paid for. Money rules.

Gardiner Menefree

Re: "'I am privileged to have had the opportunity to serve the country at a time of critical transformation in the telecommunications industry,' Ms. Baker said in a statement."

Clearly, the vast majority of commenters has asserted healthy skepticism regarding the phrase, "to serve the country." In her new position, Ms Baker will not need to dissemble any longer. She will continue to be, of course, "privileged."

Eight years of Bush/Cheney attracted an enormous weight of self-serving bureautrash. Another example, the FDIC's Sheila Bair, a 2006 appointee, has set her departure for July. Does JPM's Jamie Dimon, who has favored hiring SEC retirees, have a position for her befitting the great benefit she has bestowed by gifting him $307 billion of the solvent WaMu's assets for the extremely risible and unexplained sum of $1.88 billion?

Clyde Wynant
Pittsburgh, PA

It's all the same company. There is just a different entity issuing the checks.

Krish Pillai
Lock Haven

I was thoroughly stumped as to what logic the FCC had applied to this merger. By allowing a merger between a Network Service Provider (monopoly at that) and a content provider such as NBC, the FCC basically enforced the digital divide. A network service provider will have no interest in providing service to consumers who have limited resources in buying content (rural america) from them. A very large percentage of information and public opinion is fed to us today via the Internet. And to make its availability dependent on the capability of the customer to consume is simply unfair and regressive. I suspected then that someone had put self-interest ahead of benefits to the public. At least we now know who the person is.


The Non-Orwellian version: “I am privileged to have had the opportunity to serve myself at a time of critical transformation in the telecommunications industry,” Ms. Baker said in a statement. “The continued monetizing of our broadband infrastructures will eventually screw all Americans. I am happy to have played my part in the success of this scam.”

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