The "I will mess you up" Senator is what Keith Olbermann is now calling Al Franken. He also added that "orientation" for Minnesota’s Senator is now over.
Franken’s toughness and savvy was on display last week at a hearing on the proposed $30 billion mega-merger between Comcast and NBC Universal.
In his feisty opening statement, Franken said: "I worked for NBC for many years. And what I know from my previous career has given me reason to be concerned–let me rephrase that, very concerned–about the potential merger of Comcast and NBC Universal. The media are our source of entertainment, but they’re also the way we get our information about the world. So when the same company that produces the programs runs the pipes that bring us those programs, we have a reason to be nervous…. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t just trust their promises and that is from experience in this business."
The former SNL star and entertainment industry insider-turned-Senator is dead on with his concerns. As Free Press–the media reform advocacy organization founded by The Nation‘s John Nichols, media scholar Robert McChesney, and current executive director Josh Silver–points out, the merger would result in Comcast controlling one in every five television viewing hours. It would lead to fewer choices of what you can watch and how you can watch it. Those cable bills that continue to rise would rise even higher, and if you don’t use Comcast you might have to pay a premium to get NBC’s shows. There will be even less access to local and independent programming as Comcast would promote NBC’s shows at their expense. And, finally, there’s the even larger issue of concentrating power and limiting access to free public interest media.
"Senator Franken is right to be outraged–and the public needs to get outraged, too," Silver told me. "We need to say no to the Comcast takeover of NBC. This would be one of the biggest media mergers ever–and the first to concentrate this much power over not just content but distribution of that content.That’s too much power for one company, and it’s a threat to competition and independent voices, not to mention the higher prices we’ll all be paying every month.