National Review: Comcast Merger 'Bought' by Donations to Democrats

Monday, 07 Apr 2014 10:10 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Comcast, America's largest cable provider, will own roughly one-third of the U.S. cable and satellite television market with its impending purchase of Time Warner, a merger that will likely be approved by the FCC because of the company's colossal donations to the Democratic Party, according to the National Review.

Comcast has more than 100 lobbyists and spent almost $19 million on lobbying activities last year. Its president and CEO, Brian Roberts, is a golf buddy of President Barack Obama's and a major donor to Democratic campaigns. The company's executive director, David Cohen, has raised more than $2 million for Obama since 2007 and has been described by the president as a "friend."

Meanwhile, the Comcast Foundation has disbursed more than $3 billion in political donations since 2001, primarily to groups that serve African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and parts of the Democratic coalition, many of whom support the merger, according to the  Review.

The company has also made in-kind donations that are more difficult to quantify. NBC networks owned by Comcast, and MSNBC in particular, for example, are "almost entirely devoted to furthering the president's agenda and the broader priorities of the American progressive movement," the Review says.

Since 1989, more than half of Comcast's and Time Warner's political donations have gone to Democrats, the magazine reported. The top three recipients of contributions from Time Warner's employees, their family members, and PACs were Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Secretary of State John Kerry, and the PAC has given significant donations to the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The chairman of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, was appointed by Obama in 2013. Wheeler, a venture capitalist, was a campaign bundler for Obama, and raised between $200,000 and $500,000 for Obama's first campaign, and $500,000 for his re-election campaign, according to the Review.

There has been little opposition to the merger, the Review said, stating that if a merger involved Rupert Murdoch, Glenn Beck, Sheldon Adelson, or the Koch brothers, opponents would decry corporate consolidation.

"It is something of a political irony that Republicans, who for ideological reasons are pro-business, have not raised questions about, or objections to, the conjoining of two Democratic institutions into a media trust," the Review said. "If Republicans had any sense, they would wage war against Comcast and its Democratic enablers and turn the merger into a live issue."

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