Wyatt, A Clash Over Airwaves, New York Times, April 22, 2011 (featured on page B1).
“Sounds kind of like a bank holdup to me,“ Representative John D. Dingell, a prominent Michigan Democrat, told Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman, at a hearing in February. “You hold a gun at the teller’s head and say, ‘We know that you are going to voluntarily give me this money. If you don’t, I’m going to shoot you.’ “
During his long career in Congress, including as head of the U.S. House Commerce Committee with jurisdiction over broadcasting, Rep. Dingell has never seen a TV broadcast subsidy he didn’t like. He was also the champion of Jim Quello, a local Michigan TV broadcaster, who he got appointed to the FCC and who shamelessly supported tens of billions of dollars worth of public rights giveaways to the TV broadcasters. Dingell has been rewarded by his local TV broadcasters not with campaign cash but with favorable TV coverage. It is a travesty of our political and media system that he should have been able to do so much harm to the American people while being politically rewarded for it. By implying that the way the broadcast industry exerts political influence is solely or primarily through campaign contributions, the article fundamentally misleads the public. The article fits in the long tradition of giving Dingell a pass and taking his statements, however absurd they might be, at face value.
Why the press engages in exposes of lawmakers who give a few hundred thousand dollars in an earmark to a legitimate if questionable local project but ignores a spectrum rights giveaway of billions of dollars to some of America’s wealthiest individuals and most profitable companies is beyond me.