Why you can't trust what the media say about our government

Friday, February 17, 2012 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: media, government, corruption

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(NaturalNews) You probably already know not to trust what the news media says about big corporations, which after all are their owners -- for example, Disney owns ABC, and General Electric holds stake in NBC. Now Harvard law professor and political activist Larry Lessig has released a Venn diagram that strikingly demonstrates the close connections between U.S. media and government.

See the diagram yourself at:

The most illustrative name on the diagram is that of Meredith Baker, currently a high-ranking lobbyist for Comcast-NBC. As a young woman, Baker interned at the State Department under then-Secretary of State James A. Baker III (who would later become her father-in-law). She later became a lawyer, specializing in corporate law. When her former State Department boss, Steven Barry, took a job at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, she followed him and secured a position as a lobbyist ("director of congressional affairs"). This was followed by a job at a telecommunications firm and another lobbying position.

Baker worked on George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign, and Bush subsequently appointed her first to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, then to deputy assistant secretary of the Commerce Department.

In October 2007, while Baker was at the Commerce Department, the Associated Press reported that Comcast "actively interferes with attempts by some of its high-speed Internet subscribers to share files online, a move that runs counter to the tradition of treating all types of Net traffic equally." The FCC responded by opening an investigation into these practices, eventually concluding that Comcast's practices were unreasonable and ordering the company to desist.

During the conflict, Baker openly supported Comcast and adopted the cable and telephone industry's position opposing network neutrality. When President Obama appointed her to the FCC in 2009, she aggressively pursued this position. Writing about her time at the FCC, the Associated Press characterized Baker as "a reliable pro-business voice who frequently expressed concern that the agency was imposing unnecessary and onerous regulations on phone and cable companies."

During Baker's FCC tenure, the commission was called upon to approve a proposed merger of Comcast and NBC. The merger was approved in January 2011, with Baker voting in the affirmative. In March, Baker complained that the FCC had taken too long to review the merger and placed too many conditions on Comcast. Two months later, Baker announced that she would be prematurely leaving her FCC post to accept a job as Comcast's "senior vice president of governmental affairs for NBC Universal" -- in other words, as a lobbyist.

A Revolving Door

Baker's story may be among the most obvious, but the "revolving door" between the government and media goes far beyond any one case. Numerous White House press secretaries and communications directors have come from (and later returned to) jobs in the media, raising the question of how critically they can be expected to report on the people they formed such close personal and professional relationships with.

Politicians have also leveraged their careers into lucrative media jobs. For example, Evan Bayh served first as Secretary of State and later as Governor of Indiana, before going on to represent the state in the U.S. Senate. Months after leaving the Senate, he took a paid position as a Fox News contributor. Rick Santorum, who spent 12 years as a U.S. senator for Pennsylvania, took a job as a Fox News contributor the month after leaving office. Now he is a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination.

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