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Stay classy, corporados.
May 19, 2011 3:14 PM   Subscribe

Just your classic corporation-meets-social-good, corporation-funds-social-good, corporation-dumps-social-good story. Cable giant Comcast meets ReelGrrls, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting young women in becoming filmmakers. Comcast funds ReelGrrls. Comcast buys NBC, giving their cable network (presumably cheaper) access to NBC's vast back catalog of content. FCC approves the union. FCC head Meredith Attwell Baker leaves and becomes head of Comcast. ReelGrrls tweets about her career move. Comcast yanks funding for ReelGrrls. ReelGrrls says, "OMG, you broke up with me over a tweet?" (SLYT) posted by gusandrews (25 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
By the way, that's Baker in "married to the son of Reagan/Bush I Chief of Staff James Baker".
posted by Trurl at 3:22 PM on May 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I dunno, corporations are made of a lot of moving parts. This is somewhat akin to when my mouth desires something that my colon doesn't approve of. Not that Baker's move isn't twenty kinds of wrong.
posted by GuyZero at 3:24 PM on May 19, 2011


I hate Comcast as much as any man alive, but it's pretty deceptive framing to bury below the jump the fact that they've completely retracted and apologized for the move to cut funding as the "unauthorized action of our employee".
posted by strangely stunted trees at 3:25 PM on May 19, 2011 [9 favorites]


FCC approves the union. FCC head Meredith Attwell Baker leaves and becomes head of Comcast.

She's not the head, just the head lobbyist. Which makes it even scarier.
posted by Big_B at 3:26 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Baker said she viewed herself as a telecommunications policy expert and not someone being hired expressly for her political connections.
posted by Trurl at 3:27 PM on May 19, 2011


I dunno, corporations are made of a lot of moving parts. This is somewhat akin to when my mouth desires something that my colon doesn't approve of. Not that Baker's move isn't twenty kinds of wrong.

So in this analogy, is Baker the asshole?
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:28 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Something something hand that feeds you.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:30 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Which isn't to say I approve of Comcast's actions. But still.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:33 PM on May 19, 2011


Women are real hard are on each other sometimes.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:35 PM on May 19, 2011


Morally, this gives me the willies. However, people should really be aware of what they Say/Tweet/Share in the social media era. Certainly, in a perfect world, everyone should be able to express their views even if they are critical of their funding sources.

Since we live in an imperfect world, it isn't too smart to criticize the company that provides your funding in a public way. The reaction of the ReelGrrl's seems quite disingenuous to me. They appear "shocked" that Comcast would stop funding them? If they are media savvy enough to get funding from large corporations, they are certainly media savvy enough to realize this might be the reaction.
posted by EvilPRGuy at 3:49 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


So in this analogy, is Baker the asshole?

Look it up: Under "Christ, what an."
posted by Danf at 3:54 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are also media savvy enough to disingenuously pretend to be shocked.

If I were Comcast dealing with a group who had the tools and experience in media that ReelGrrls does, I wouldn't piss them off over nipping the hand that feeds them. I'd only cut them off if they were really savaging me. Although, at that point, it might be better PR spin to just quietly point out the hypocrisy implicit in taking money from an organization you are critical of.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:56 PM on May 19, 2011 [7 favorites]


The story should be the obvious corruption of Comcast and Baker -- we need to place some rules to prevent government employees from giving benefits to companies and then later on joining the same company. It is bribery and should be pursued as such in the courts.
posted by Shit Parade at 3:58 PM on May 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


I hate Comcast as much as any man alive, but it's pretty deceptive framing to bury below the jump the fact that they've completely retracted and apologized for the move to cut funding as the "unauthorized action of our employee".

No, it's not, because it still has a chilling effect on anyone else who has or wants Comcast funding.

The problem here, once again, is that when any corporation becomes too big, everyone else is at a disadvantage, because you can't not deal with it.

People whose only effective option for broadband is Comcast, because Comcast has a monopoly, can't vote with their money. They can't negotiate; they have to accept binding arbitration and give yup their rights to sue in the courts their taxes pay for.

It's the same a mining company's company town. Glibertarians will tell you "you're free to contract or not contract, and BigCo is free to set their rates and conditions", but when Big Coal is the only employer in town, when it owns all the houses for rent in the town, when the only place to buy food is at the company store for company set prices, when the company further insists it'll leave town and leave everyone unemployed if its taxes are raises or its practices regulated, your freedom consists only in leaving the only home you've even known and hitting the road homeless, jobless, and broke. It's a Glibertarian fantasy, and freedom in name only.

Comcast is too big. The Big Banks are too big, Wall Street is too big, and our freedoms are being encroached on.

Sure, you can say what you want about Comcast -- as long as you don't need to have a job. Or eat.

This is why, one hundred years ago, laborers fought and died to get the right to strike and laws protecting that right -- because freedom to contract is a joke when there's effectively one employer, backed by Pinkertons with clubs and the National Guard's guns.

We need new laws to protect us from overgrown, over-powerful monopolies. Not lame apologies about the "unauthorized action of our employee".
posted by orthogonality at 4:00 PM on May 19, 2011 [35 favorites]


point out the hypocrisy implicit in taking money from an organization you are critical of.

Hypocrisy? If I'm critical of an organization, then of course I want them to have less money.
posted by straight at 4:01 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, ortho, I think we can all agree that Comcast is a vicious rent-seeking pocket monopoly that has no real reason to exist other than its corrupt efficiency at regulatory capture.

Nevertheless, it's deceptive to say in the post that "Comcast yanks funding for ReelGrrls," when Comcast has explicitly said they're not going to do that and that the executive that said that they would was not authorized to. That doesn't mean that this fiasco isn't worth posting about, but it's a shame to do that in such a misleading way when so much that they do can be criticized with perfect honesty.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:18 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would "Comcast yanked funding for ReelGrrls, then apologized and gave the money back after they were called on it" be more acceptable, then? Because to me, that's only marginally better.
posted by chrominance at 4:21 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't people in government see this Baker thing for the giant, corrupt, fuck-you-american-public everyone else recognizes it as? You'd think that behavior like this would essentially blacklist her as an effective lobbyist.

But I'm sure that's far too optimistic of me when it comes to DC. Instead she'll be rewarded for her despicable ethics many times over.
posted by chundo at 4:25 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hypocrisy? If I'm critical of an organization, then of course I want them to have less money.

A corporation like Comcast has plenty of money.

They were getting good publicity and PR from funding ReelGrrls, increasing the public perception of them as good corporate stewards. That is infinitely more valuable for a large monopoly like Comcast.

So maybe it is hypocritical of them, but their primary goal is empowering women via creative production, so it's a tough call for them. Taking the money may further their interests more.
posted by formless at 4:27 PM on May 19, 2011


I'm still waiting to hear when we're going to take legal action to make steps such as Baker's involvement with the FCC during the approval of the Comcast/NBC merger and then ditching the FCC to join Comcast as an employee illegal.

I know... she's got all kinds of "excuses" she's offering for why she shouldn't be questioned for this move. But it's bullshit, all of it. Sometimes the appearance of impropriety actually is evidence of impropriety, and she didn't do anything to even avoid the appearance.

This whole revolving door thing between regulatory agencies and the very industries they're supposed to be regulating needs to stop. It's fucking up our way of life and leading to many compromised marketplaces which are harming the consumer. It's worse than no regulation, because the supposedly-regulated industry can point back at the regulating body and say "well, they told us it was okay!", which is a falsehood disguised as a truth.

Fuck all this. I hope there's a real skeleton in her closet and she ends up behind bars. She should be already, but we just don't have the mechanism to put her there. Yet.
posted by hippybear at 4:29 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


The U.S. needs to ban nepotism in government.
posted by delmoi at 4:30 PM on May 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Comcast? or whatever they're calling themselves these days is a blood-sucking corporation that simply doesn't care about anything other than its own hegemony.

And, Meredith Attwell? From her bio: "Before joining NTIA, Ms. Baker was Vice President at the firm of Williams Mullen Strategies where she focused on telecommunications, intellectual property, and international trade issues. Earlier, she held the position as Senior Counsel to Covad Communications from 2000 to 2002, and Director of Congressional Affairs at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) from 1998 to 2000. Ms. Baker worked at the U.S. Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit in Houston and later at the law firm of DeLange and Hudspeth, L.L.P. From 1990 to 1992, she worked in the Legislative Affairs Office of the U.S. Department of State in Washington."

She's a big media whore who has positioned herself perfectly between business and goevrnment to squeeze maximum personal advantage from both sectors; she's a "revolving door lobbyist". Nice one, Meredith!

Look, Comcast, ATT, etc. doesn't give a rat's ass about anything but bottom line, and large senior suite bonuses, period. They, along with the bankers and a few other sector leaders are criminals. they are hurting America, and Americans. Sadly, Americans have been sufficiently dumbed down not to notice.

People like Attwell don't get where they are by playing softball; that's the lesson. She's a personal aggrandizement machine that doesn't truck bad press, or having someone throw criticism in her direction.

Doesn't anyone see the irony in an FCC higher up becoming the lead person at a giant media company? Why isn't something like that outlawed, in the first place.

Fuck Comcast!
posted by Vibrissae at 4:34 PM on May 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Somewhere, there are a group of 19th century robber barons looking at the modern day communications & media industry and saying "Damn! You guys have it good!"
posted by ShutterBun at 4:56 PM on May 19, 2011


"Unauthorized action by our employee?" Funny, that. Wouldn't "executive decision by our Vice President" be just as true?

As usual, Mr Kipp, should you, or any of your PR force, be captured or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.
posted by tyllwin at 5:56 PM on May 19, 2011


Just for the record, the rules of the revolving door.
posted by dhartung at 6:09 PM on May 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


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