I was wondering whether the headline for this article would be considered a possible crash blossom. The headline reads “Tweet about FCC member’s new job at Comcast sets off firestorm” in which the word “tweet” can be treated as a noun or a verb.
However, the more important issue is how Comcast decided to withdraw its funding to Real Grrls, a nonprofit education program, after an employee at Real Grrls posted a less-than-favorible tweet regarding Meredith Atwell Baker’s recent announcement that she’s leaving her post as FCC commissioner to go work for Comcast a mere four months after approving Comcast’s merger with NBC.
Of course, Ms. Baker’s decision to join Comcast after helping approve its merger with NBC has not come without a lot of criticism. So why exactly did Comcast go after this nonprofit for a tweet that was, as far as I’m concerned, not as bad as other commentary about Ms. Baker’s helping her future employer? A part of me believes it’s a way to stifle freedom of expression. The message being sent is clear: “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
The Comcast-Baker debacle shows what’s wrong with our society. We let corporations grow and merge to the zenith level, all while claiming that their large size has something to do with economic efficiency (even though instances of lower unit costs translating into comparably lower prices seem more rare than normal). Corporations are so powerful in this country that buying out your government officials is no longer done through normal means of bribery and lobbying, but a rather a mere offer of million dollars paying jobs. What does it say of our society when government officials and corporate managers and owners are one and the same? Perhaps it is time to stop spreading our message of the wonderful miracles of democracy abroad and turn inward. We have to reverse the trend of corporate growth. Our democracy cannot settle for a lesser course of action.
Comcast–after intense public backlash–ultimately reversed its decision and has agreed to start funding the summer camp for young girls who want to “learn documentary script writing, editing and filmmaking.” But does Real Grrls really want to accept monetary donations from a company that will take it away next time there’s a negative message posted about it on Twitter?
Thanks to my dear friend Xuan for her contribution in helping me write this entry.