(Tom Galvin) I’m sure when Meredith Atwell Baker decided to leave the FCC, she didn’t expect a lot of gratitude for her public service. After all, it’s old-fashioned to actually thank someone for working long hours, taking a pay cut and subjecting themselves to the scrutiny and criticism that comes with being a government employee. But she probably didn’t expect to be kicked in the shins either, and for good reason.
Baker is an expert in the field of telecommunications and technology, and she gathered that expertise largely through private sector policy and lobbying jobs. She then put that expertise to work for the federal government first at the Commerce Department, where she was widely praised by Democrats and Republicans alike, and then as a Senate-confirmed commissioner at the FCC.
Now she’s leaving to go back to what she did before, government relations. She did everything the right way, including recuse herself when she started talking with NBCUniversal about a job. She played by the rules, and gets burned for it. The criticism is she must have been angling for the job when she voted to approve the NBC/Comcast merger in January. If so, why did two Democrats on the panel vote for it as well? Perhaps because they all followed the process and reached a conclusion.
And the media is, of course, aghast. Baker didn’t control the timing of the FCC merger vote, or the fact a retirement opened up a great job that she had to consider, but don’t let those facts stand in the way. And what if Baker had instead taken a job lobbying for the newspaper industry? That’s right, the Washington Post and many newspapers hire lobbyists who do exactly what Baker does for a living. But you don’t read much about that in the papers because that’s, well, awkward.
Now the FCC has one opening and likely another in coming months. Good luck finding the best and the brightest to fill those jobs now that they know their future employment will be criticized by those who fling arrows from the cheap seats.