Meredith Baker is hardly a household name, but if you have cable television, her work might soon be entering your household.
That's because she is one of four members of the Federal Communications Commission who voted in January to approve Comcast's takeover of NBC. OK'ing this combine means that, for the first time, a giant cable TV provider will now control its own national TV programming network — an anti-competitive concentration of media power that bodes ill both for consumers and democracy.
But Ms. Baker, a Republican and former Bush official, has long been an anti-regulatory corporate ideologue — she even called mergers "consumer-enhancing and job-creating deals," which is the exact opposite of how they really play out. So her vote to let Comcast swallow NBC was no big surprise.
But four months later, a hicky has popped up on Baker's vote. It turns out that she's now leaving the FCC, and guess where she's going. Yes, to the Washington office of the newly merged Comcast-NBC behemoth, where she'll work as a highly paid lobbyist.
The New York Times reports that some are criticizing her spin through the government/corporate revolving door as "ethically questionable." No, it's not. It's ethically corrupt, no question about it! Even though she has to comply with a two-year waiting period before lobbying the FCC itself, she's allowed to start lobbying Congress and the executive branch immediately.
The head of Free Press, a media reform group, calls Baker's lucrative merger with the very corporations she helped merge a blatant example of "a so-called public servant cashing in ... No wonder the public is so nauseated by business as usual in Washington, where the complete capture of government by industry barely raises any eyebrows." Exactly.
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.