Skip to main content

It's fair to say that media and the public have responded with disgust to news that FCC Commissioner Meredith Atwell Baker had cut short her public duties to lobby for Comcast, the company whose takeover of NBC Universal she had just approved.

Baker's Comcast dash raised the eyebrows of even the most seasoned Beltway insiders -- including those who tend to see public-sector service as the farm league for "K" Street jobs.

But the criticism hasn't been limited to one bureaucrat's shameless decision to abandon her 2009 oath to serve the American people. Baker's move may become the tipping point for new rules to stop Washington's revolving door from tempting any bureaucrat to exchange a light regulatory hand for the promise of a high-salaried job.

The New York Times has called on Congress to pass stronger measures to prevent government employees from jumping ship so soon; more than 55,000 people have already written the chair of the House Oversight Committee demanding action.

Can you blame people for being so angry? With public trust in government at a 30-year low, its time Washington recognized that "business as usual" isn't good enough.

Follows is a survey of prevailing opinion:

The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14:

"There's something particularly unsettling about a regulatory official who voted only four months ago to approve the $13.75 billion merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal turning around to take a high-profile job with that firm... [T]he move threatens to further undermine public confidence in the government's ability to make objective decisions that put ordinary citizens' interests first."
TIME Magazine, May 13:
"The revolving door has spun in exactly the way that people outside the beltway have long feared it would. And it happened without any rules being broken. Baker may not have known that NBC-Universal or Comcast would be offering her a job when she argued on their behalf. But everyone in town knows that if you stand up for wealthy interests while serving the public interest, chances are there is a nice fat paycheck waiting for you somewhere when you choose to leave government."
The Seattle Times, May 13:
"Unseemly does not begin to describe Baker's actions. Even the most jaundiced critic of the FCC should be taken aback by the Republican commissioner's new job and the blink of time between her vote and her announcement. Factor in the time consumed by the hiring process, which apparently began last month, and it's even worse. It is actions like Baker's that turn people against government."
The New York Times, May 12:
"Congress should expand the definition of lobbying beyond face-to-face encounters to any effort to influence government decisions for their clients. It should also set tight caps on what former officials, including former lawmakers, can earn from lobbying before they must register as lobbyists. Americans don't need any more reasons to mistrust Washington."
Rolling Stone, May 12:
"Rarely are revolving-door stories this revolting. Just months ago Meredith Attwell Baker voted -- as a commissioner on the FCC -- to approve Comcast's controversial merger NBC Universal. Baker is now taking a job as a senior vice president in Comcast's lobbying shop in Washington. 'No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washington,' said Craig Aaron, chief executive of media watchdog Free Press."
Wired, May 11:
"The revolving door between the public-private sector is now so taken for granted that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski applauded the move... 'I wish her well in her new role at NBC Universal,' Genachowski said in a statement, hours after Baker announced she was 'privileged to have had the opportunity to serve the country.' What's more revolting, Baker's move or Genachowski's reaction? Let us know."
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site