Every time Joe Biden appears on NBC, or MSNBC, or one of the other media channels owned by Comcast, there ought to be a disclaimer that reads, “The executives of this company have given money to Joe Biden—and some of them have even gone to work for him.”
Such a disclaimer would have provided valuable context for MSNBC viewers on April 25, when the channel played Biden’s 2020 presidential announcement video, in full, without any hint of his special relationship to the channel.
Biden might be campaigning as “Middle Class Joe,” but he certainly seems to be more like “Comcast Joe.” That cable giant, headquartered in Philadelphia, just a few miles up the Delaware River from Biden’s home state, ranks 33rd on the Fortune 500 list, boasting annual revenues of $84.5 billion—there’s nothing middle about that.
So it wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to learn that Comcast and Biden are close—if, that is, Biden were a Republican. And yet, of course, Biden is a Democrat; indeed, he bills himself as a Democrat committed to fighting income inequality.
Yet there was nothing equal, or middle class, about the very first fundraising event that Biden held after his presidential announcement. The Philadelphia Inquirer set the scene, under the headline, “He came to Philly to meet with rich donors. Will Joe Biden still be Middle Class Joe?” As the Inquirer explained:
Hours after launching his campaign Thursday, Biden’s first formal event wasn’t at a union hall or factory. It was a Philadelphia fund-raiser with prominent executives from Comcast, Independence Blue Cross, and powerhouse law firms, all hosted in the West Mount Airy home of Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen.
Guests were asked to contribute as much as $2,800, and snacked on Mediterranean charcuterie with sliced steak and other hors d’oeuvres as they assembled on Cohen’s back patio for Biden’s 14-minute speech. More than 100 showed up.
To be sure, some of Biden’s Democratic rivals noticed the corporate chumminess. In a direct-mail blast, Elizabeth Warren, who is refusing to hold high-dollar fundraisers of her own, blasted Biden for being the star attraction at “a swanky private fundraiser for wealthy donors at the home of the guy who runs Comcast’s lobbying shop.”
Interestingly, there were other donors, too, at that fundraiser who are sure to raise some Democratic eyebrows. Labor journalist Mike Elk noted in his Pay Day Report that another of the hosts at that soirée was Steve Cozen, described by Elk as the “founder and chairman of the union-busting law firm Cozen O’Connor,” which specializes in helping companies “avoid unionization.” Once again, that might be fine for Republicans, and yet for Democrats—the self-declared party of labor—it’s a bit strange.
Of course, one can be pro-corporate—or at least pro-crony capitalism—and still be a Democrat. After all, corporate-minded Democrats are cheerful about the public hypocrisy of their party’s office-holders; as a headline in Politico explained, “Biden swears off lobbyists’ money, but K Street likes him anyway.”
In the meantime, other pro-Biden Democrats are hard at work shaking the big-money bushes. As The Hill reported:
Democratic fundraiser Matt Tompkins has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to establish the For the People PAC, with the aim of raising tens of millions of dollars to support Biden’s White House bid. The super PAC will run local and national media ads for Biden and ensure he’ll have an activist network in all 50 states as he seeks to maintain his standing at the top of the polls in the Democratic primary. For the People will also run Facebook ads that send potential donors directly to Biden’s campaign.
A left-wing critic of Biden, Charles Chamberlain, chair of the activist group Democracy for America, said to a different Hill reporter, “He’s a corporate Democrat, through and through.”
Indeed, Biden seems to be laying on the corporatism, extra thick. For instance, we have just learned that the Biden campaign has hired one T.J. Ducklo for its chief communications role. As The Washington Examiner noted, Ducklo previously worked as senior communications director for NBC News—owned, of course, by Comcast. (And speaking of corporate liberalism, earlier, Ducklo worked as communications director for Bloomberg Politics.)
The Democrats, of course, will have to decide whether or not they want Biden to be their next presidential nominee. Yet in the meantime, elementary fairness suggests that all Comcast media properties—including NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC, and Telemundo, which has a substantial news operation–ought to provide a disclaimer.
In the first paragraph of this piece, Virgil offered some possible language for the appropriate disclaimer. And yet if that’s too wordy, here’s a shorter version: “Joe Biden: He’s Comcastic!”