Obama’s Bad Pick: A Former Lobbyist at the FCC

Source: New Yorker
Author: John Cassidy
Coverage Type: analysis
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC, 20500, United States

[Commentary] Memo to a President who said, in November, 2007, “I am in this race to tell the corporate lobbyists in Washington that their days of setting the agenda are over”: If you are going to name a former lobbyist for big cable and wireless companies as head of the federal agency that regulates the cable and wireless industries, you had better find a public-interest-group advocate to say something positive about him (or her) before you make the announcement.

Job done. By May 1, when the White House confirmed that it was nominating Tom Wheeler, a veteran Washington insider who has headed not one powerful industry association but two, as the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the nomination had already secured the support of Public Knowledge, an advocacy group that promotes open and unlimited access to the Internet. “Certainly we will have disagreements with the new Chairman (assuming Wheeler is confirmed), but we expect that Wheeler will actively work to promote competition and protect consumers,” Harold Feld, a senior vice-president at Public Knowledge, wrote in a blog post. That’s a relief—or is it? The closer you look at Wheeler’s selection, the more questionable it appears.


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