For most of the past year, the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger was considered a done deal, and all the only question was in the details.
When it was announced a little more than a year ago, it felt to many like a sure thing.The two people most responsible for stopping this deal are Senator Al Franken, and comedian who is smarter than all the pundits combined" John Oliver, whop popularized the term, "Cable Company Fuckery."
After all, government regulators had approved Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011. Comcast had an army of registered lobbyists, more than 100 strong, in Washington alone. The company’s chief executive, Brian L. Roberts, golfed on Martha’s Vineyard with President Obama. Its executive vice president, David L. Cohen, hosted three fund-raisers for Mr. Obama, two at his home in Philadelphia, raising a total of more than $10 million.
But now the $45 billion Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger is dead. Comcast is folding, in anticipation of regulators rejecting the deal.
For opponents of the merger, it helped that net neutrality was no longer such an esoteric concept to the American public. In June, an unlikely individual, John Oliver of HBO, devoted a lengthy segment to the subject that quickly lit up the Internet, attracting more than eight million views. (“The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are ‘featuring Sting,’ ” he said of net neutrality.)Since Oliver is ineligible for the Presidency, Al Franken is the obvious choice.
One of Mr. Oliver’s primary targets of ridicule was Comcast. He showed a graphic of the speed of Netflix videos on Comcast before and after it had negotiated a deal for faster service with the cable provider, comparing it to a “mob shakedown.”
Over the months, the chorus of critics of the Comcast deal grew, and grew louder. When the merger was announced in February 2014, Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota, was its lone outspoken critic in Congress. Earlier this week, five other senators joined him in urging the Justice Department and the F.C.C. to block the acquisition.
I know that Franken has expressed no interest in running for President, but I think that we should draft him.