Sanders to NBC: You Can’t Merge Your Company With One Run by Republicans (Update: Olby Responds and Johnny Dollar Rips Maddow Apart) (UPDATED with Video)
[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]
Update: Olby releases a statement. He does apologize, but then goes on to deflect any actual responsibility. I guess that is all you can expect from a pompous blow-hard like him. Meanwhile, Johnny Dollar takes down Rachel Maddow. You can read the whole post, or just scroll down to the video.
Yeah, that will leave a mark.
Looks like Bernie Sanders, the only person in Congress willing to admit he is a socialist, needs a refresher course on freedom of expression:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he would look to block a merger between NBC and Comcast, citing the decision last week by MSNBC to suspend liberal anchor Keith Olbermann.
Sanders said Comcast’s attempt to acquire NBC from General Electric would result in “another media giant run by a Republican supporter of George W. Bush.”
He does know there is a new president, right?
The Vermont senator, an independent [socialist] who caucuses with Democrats, has loudly criticized MSNBC’s suspension of Olbermann last week for violating company policies when he donated to three Democratic candidates.
The suspension was imposed Friday, and Olbermann will be back on the air Tuesday night.
Sanders expressed concern that the precedent set by that suspension would result in MSNBC becoming more like Fox News, which is part of the Newscorp empire run by Rupert Murdoch.
Um, how, exactly would it do that?
Liberals complain the coverage by many Newscorp properties tilts to the right, mirroring many of Murdoch’s own opinions.
The senator pointed to Comcast’s COO Stephen B. Burke’s history as a major fundraiser for former President George W. Bush as a reason why the deal, which has drawn criticism from other lawmakers for different reasons, should be blocked.
Notice he doesn’t actually accuse him of doing anything but fundraising. But its his fear of what the man might do that drives this.
“As Vermont’s senator, I intend to do all that I can do to stop this merger. There already is far too much media concentration in this country,” Sanders said. “We do not need another media giant run by a Republican supporter of George W. Bush. That is the lesson we should learn from the Keith Olbermann suspension.”
Of course he might be able to do this in large part because of an outdated doctrine allowing the government to exercise more control over broadcasts than the cable/satellite companies. So with NBC being a broadcast channel (quick, how many people actually receive channels through a normal antenna on their TV?), they are subject to much greater control than if they were purely a cable or satellite operation.
Whatever arguments there was for the fear of media domination applied best in the “Good Ole Days” when there were three channels and you were the remote, sitting way too close to the screen and following Dad’s instructions: “turn it up! Try channel 4, try channel 9… Ah crap Loveboat. Well, I guess there is nothing better on…” With 700 billion channels, Netflix instant streaming (on most game consoles, no less), DVD’s, Google Tv debuting, Hulu, YouTube and probably five other things I don’t even know of, the idea that anyone could capture control of the media is antiquated.
In fact, what we have been seeing is not the creation of a monopoly but the end of one. It used to be the big three networks were the only game in town and they were all left leaning with no options for conservatives. “The genius of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes was to have discovered a niche market in American broadcasting,” Charles Krauthammer once observed, “half the American people.” If liberal dominance was the Thesis, and the appearance of Fox News was the Antithesis, then the possibility of another network trying to scoop up some of that niche must suggest a coming synthesis, where the media is more evenly divided, or maybe even becomes the objective media that it has long claimed to be. And that surely scares the living crap out of liberals and democrats. If its just Fox News, they can continue to ignore and marginalize them. But if its two companies… then the liberal dominance of the media starts to be seriously threatened.
But as suggested by the title, Sanders, in making this threat, has shown that he fundamentally misapprehends to oath of office. It is not his job to care if the media is mainly liberal or conservative.
As for the courts, if Mr. Sanders succeeds in blocking this merger, maybe it is time for the Supreme Court to revisit its ruling that broadcast media is uniquely subject to government control. I have long said that if you wondered what life would be like without the FCC’s nannyism, one only need to dial to the all-cable stations. Channels like FX, A&E, G4, The History Channel, Sci-Fi (I refuse to spell it their new, stupid way), and so on. Go on, look. Is it really so awful? I think our republic can survive having petty tyrants like Sanders defanged. It is time to restore freedom of expression.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: You really owe it to yourself to click on that Johnny Dollar link. But in any event, you really have to watch this video that he put together. It is awesomely entertaining, and just rips MSNBC and Maddow apart. You’ll enjoy every second.
Now go read his post.
Update: Slight update in editing. Thanks Joshua.