Amid assurances from some republicans, conservatives, and libertarians in Washington that the $45 billion Comcast – Time Warner merger is nothing to fear, The Washington Free Beacon’s Michael Continetti reveals the deep ties Comcast CEO Brian Roberts as well as Time Warner have with the Democratic Party:
Comcast, which employs more than 100 lobbyists, spent almost $19 million last year on lobbying activities. Its president and CEO, Brian L. Roberts, is a golf buddy of President Obama’s, and a Democratic donor who has contributed thousands of dollars not only to the president’s campaigns, but also to the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the DNC Services Corporation, and to Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). Roberts’ executive vice president, David Cohen, is a former aide to Democratic bigwig Ed Rendell. Cohen skirts lobbying regulations through loopholes, has raised more than $2 million for Obama since 2007, and in 2011 hosted a DNC fundraiser at which the president called him “friend.” Cohen has visited the White House 14 times since 2010, including two visits to the Oval Office. He attended the recent dinner for President Hollande of France.
Continetti’s piece goes on to explain Robert’s personal relationship with President Obama as well as the Comcast CEO’s active role in helping Democrats reach out to their base voters and push the Democratic Party policy agenda. This was particularly the case when Roberts sent Obama a letter in 2009 about Comcast’s support for the healthcare reform legislation. The letter was sent on the same day General Electric and Comcast announced a joint venture worth a combined $37.25 billion that would allow the cable company to eventually take over NBC Universal. In the letter, Roberts offers Comcast’s assistance to the Obama administration in not only pushing the bill through but also helping with the implementation of the health care act.
Referencing the GE deal in his letter as a reason he could not attend the White House’s ’09 Summit on Job’s and Economic Growth, Roberts writes:
“I very much appreciate the outreach to the business community, and want to express one of the thoughts I intended to make at the Summit — that enactment of comprehensive health care reform legislation is, in my judgment, critical to putting this country on a path of sustained growth and prosperity.”
In his letter to Obama, Roberts touts Comcast as a leading technology company that “understands the generative power of broadband technology and its potential to improve the overall quality of healthcare” and says he supports “the development of standards and protocols to promote the digitization of health records and documents, electronic data matching, and the interoperability of systems for enrollment in health services programs.”
Roberts closes the letter offering his assistance the president saying:
“I want to commend you for your dedication to health care reform and for the remarkable progress that has been achieved in this area under your leadership. We cannot allow perfection to stand in the way of critically needed and very good legislation, which is why I support your efforts. Comcast stands ready to assist you and this nation in the effort to enact sensible health care reform. We look forward to working with your Administration to make health care information technology the best in the world.”
Comcast’s vertical acquisition of NBC Universal’s assets brought together two media giants who share similar political leanings five years ago. MSNBC’s own Joe Scarborough has pointed out the liberalism at his network’s parent company. Comcast now wants to welcome Time Warner into the mix. As with Comcast, Continetti points out, Time Warner has its own dealings with the Democratic Party:
The top three recipients of contributions from Time Warner’s employees, their family members, and PACs are Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry. President Obama comes first, with more than $1 million. Hillary Clinton comes next, with some $400,000. (Sexism?) Time Warner’s PAC has given lavishly to the DNC Services Corporation, the DCC, and the DSCC.
Time Warner’s CEO, Robert Marcus, has donated $8,500 to Democrats since 2010. His giving also favors Democrats over Republicans. So far this cycle Time Warner and its employees have lavished support on Alison Grimes, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Kay Hagan, Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), and Henry Waxman. They are all–well, you know what they are. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who has received donations from both companies, had to recuse himself from Senate business with the merger when it was revealed that his brother, Robert, was representing Time Warner. Comcast and Time Warner are on the list of companies subject to an ongoing Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Investigation. Will Reid and Schumer return the money donated by companies under investigation for shady business practices overseas?
Speaking of Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), it should be noted that the Nevada Democrat’s Chief of Staff is a former Comcast VP who was still being paid by the cable company, while he was working for Reid. Both Comcast and Time Warner have also shown their political activist bias via who is allowed on their cable system and who is not. Comcast banned ammo and gun ads from running on their entire cable system last year. USA Today reported:
“Consistent with long-standing NBC policies, Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept new advertising for firearms or weapons moving forward,” said spokesman Chris Ellis of Comcast’s advertising sales division, Comcast Spotlight. Comcast has operations in 39 states and the District of Columbia.
Time Warner Cable announced in January — about a month after a gunman in Newtown, Conn., killed 27 people including 20 children — that it would no longer allow ads showing semiautomatic weapons and guns pointed at people, according to Multichannel News magazine. Time Warner (TWC), the country’s second largest cable provider, operates in 29 states.
Interestingly, the only member of Congress who has been particularly outspoken against the Comcast-Time Warner merger is Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) (D -MN). In the meantime, Comcast’s executive vice president David Cohen, who was also an aide to former Democratic Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, told C-SPAN that Comcast’s prior commitments to regulators should not hold back Time Warner and Comcast from merging.