From Pine View Farm

John McCain Is a Conservative Hack 0

The Nation:

More than a decade ago McCain voted against the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which gave the green light to media consolidation. He also loudly opposed the efforts of commercial broadcasters to quash low-power noncommercial FM broadcasting in 2000. Progressives applauded in both cases. But as chair of the all-important Senate Commerce Committee, which was responsible for implementation of the Telecom Act, the Arizona senator resisted numerous opportunities to mitigate its worst excesses. The hallmarks of McCain’s “leadership” have been: (1) a failure to promote the public interest; (2) hypocritical pro-consumer rhetoric that hides pro-business action; (3) a fundamental misunderstanding of technology and economics; and (4) troubling, at times scandalous, loyalty to particular special interests.

While most of the attention to February’s New York Times investigation of McCain’s relationship with Vicki Iseman focused on speculation about romantic entanglement, shockingly little attention was paid to the revelation that in 1999 McCain had, as Commerce Committee chair, pressured the FCC to issue a critical TV station license to Paxson Communications, for whom Iseman was lobbying. McCain’s approach was so aggressive and so out of bounds even for corporate-cozy Washington that then-FCC chair William Kennard complained about the senator’s attempted intervention. Paxson’s executives and lobbyists contributed more than $20,000 to McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign, and its CEO lent McCain the company’s jet at least four times for campaign travel. The senator’s symbiotic relationship with Paxson and telecom giants like AT&T is rarely mentioned on the Straight Talk Express.

Also unmentioned is the crucial role McCain played in shaping the Bush-era FCC. It was McCain who personally and aggressively promoted Michael Powell (see note–ed.) to serve as FCC chair, and who defended Powell’s attempts in 2003 to rewrite media ownership rules according to a script written by industry lobbyists. While other senators objected to those rule changes after more than 2 million Americans communicated their opposition, McCain sought to preserve them. And he remains joined at the hip with Powell, who unabashedly thinks the job of government is to promote the interests of the largest communication firms. In May Powell represented the McCain campaign on a panel discussion at the annual conference of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

It is unlikely that McCain would reappoint the disgraced Powell as chair. But it is reasonably certain he would appoint someone who shares Powell’s deafness to the pleadings of public interest. The senator’s 2006 vote against maintaining net neutrality suggests that his commitment to the business objectives of AT&T outweigh any commitment to the public interest. Straight-talk soundbites notwithstanding, McCain will be a reactionary force on media issues across the board.

Note: Follow this link to learn more about Mr. “What Big Media Wants Big Media Gets” Powell.


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