Today’s Wall Street Journal published an editorial castigating FCC chairman Kevin Martin. Normally, that would be an unexpected and pleasant surprise. Martin’s tenure at the FCC has been a gift to Big Media, allowing them to consolidate at will and presiding over a deregulation fest that has benefited everyone but consumers.
However, the reasons for the Journal’s pique are more typical of their reputation for greed and self-interest. The FCC is reportedly prepared to rule against Comcast for blocking legal access to the Internet. At Save the Internet, Craig Aaron has nicely documented Comcast’s violations and laid out the myths versus the realities of Network Neutrality. But that’s not the end of the story.
For the Journal to take up this issue now, they are treading deeply into some serious conflict of interest. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. purchased the Journal last year. The center of News Corp’s universe is Fox News – a cable network. Cable networks depend on carriage from cable operators like Comcast. Murdoch also owns a new cable operation, the Fox Business Network, which is gasping for viewers largely because they lack carriage on enough cable systems to stay afloat.
Now the Journal is coming to the rescue of Comcast. Is Murdoch attempting to curry favor with Comcast, and the cable industry in general, in order to secure more channel space? Does a pimp want to get paid? The ferocity of the Journal’s attack on an otherwise uber-loyal Republican appointee tells the story. The column starts out swinging:
“Bad personnel decisions have haunted the Bush Administration, and one of the bigger disappointments is Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin. In his last months as Master of the Media Universe, he seems poised to expand government regulation of the Internet.”
That’s the sort of rancid rhetoric that the Journal usually saves for Democrats. On that measure, the Journal doesn’t disappoint. Delivering what must be the ultimate insult to a right-wing toady, the Journal suggests that Martin is “greasing the skids for a potential Barack Obama Administration.” Remember, we’re talking about a man so devoted to the rightist agenda that he was over-ruled twice by Congress. He never saw a merger he didn’t like. He got his job as a reward for helping Bush steal the Florida election in 2000.
Martin is not the typical target of the Journal’s scorn. But if it means consolidating more power, and making more money, Murdoch will use his house organ to achieve whatever ends he desires. Even if it means beating up one of his prized whores. It’s hard out here for a pimp.