The lastest marriage between big media and Washington politics was announced yesterday. Tom DeLay’s chief of staff, Tim Berry, has been hired by Time Warner. His official title is vice president of global public policy, also known as big-time, oily-palmed lobbyist. The L. A. Times says that:
The hiring of Berry is aimed at boosting Time Warner’s influence with the GOP.
I was not aware that Time Warner had a deficit of influence with Republicans. The CEO, Richard Parsons is a long-time supporter and a former aide to then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller and President Gerald Ford. Berry’s new boss is Carol Melton who was also hired this year. In her previous position as Viacom’s top lobbyist she allocated 61 percent of the company’s political action committee contributions to Republican candidates and 38 percent to Democrats. But apparently Time Warner still feels some measure of insecurity.
Perhaps it’s because Republicans have been strong-arming corporations to hire more GOP lobbyists and threatening to punish them legislatively if they hire any Democrats. An initiative known as the K Street Project was started by Tom DeLay and Grover Norquist, the arch conservative behind Americans For Tax Reform. Its purpose is to monitor the political affiliations of lobbyists at the biggest corporations so that those who don’t play ball can be targeted for retribution.
Corporate America is all too willing to pay their protection money and reap the benefits of special treatment with regard to legislation and regulation. And the media just gets further wrapped up in the interests of corporations and politicians to the detriment of ordinary citizens. The consequences of this coziness cannot be overstated. Politicians are enjoying a windfall of contributions from their wealthy corporate benefactors. And the media, whose public image is already at record lows, becomes even less trustworthy. For instance, what effect can we expect Tim Berry’s hiring to have on CNN’s reporting about Berry’s old boss Tom DeLay? With indictments of Delay’s associates piling up in Texas, and the House Ethics Committee preparing for hearings, DeLay must feel a certain sense of comfort knowing that his former chief of staff is directing CNN’s parent company’s public policy affairs.