You have to love Chris Matthews; even though his loud and brash approach can wear on me after a while, it’s that attitude that really exposes pretenders such as Howard Dean. Matt Drudge has posted an excerpt from the Hardball installment with Dean, where Dean announced that he would “break up giant media enterprises” out of a concern “how deeply media companies can penetrate every single community” in America. Not surprisingly, since Matthews works for one of those “giant media enterprises” (GE), Matthews attempted to pin Dean down on specifics:
MATTHEWS: Well, would you break up GE?
DEAN: I can`t — you…
MATTHEWS: GE just buys Universal. Would you do something there about that? Would you stop that from happening?
DEAN: You can`t say — you can`t ask me right now and get an answer, would I break up X corp…
MATTHEWS: We`ve got to do it now, because now is the only chance we can ask you, because, once you are in, we have got to live with you.
Matthews goes on to ask about Fox, and gets the same non-answer. He didn’t ask about Disney or any other corporation, but Dean insisted on keeping as vague as possible:
MATTHEWS: Well, how about large media enterprises?
DEAN: Let me — yes, let me get…
DEAN: The answer to that is yes.
I would say that there is too much penetration by single corporations in media markets all over this country. We need locally-owned radio stations. There are only two or three radio stations left in the state of Vermont where you can get local news anymore. The rest of it is read and ripped from the AP.
MATTHEWS: So what are you going to do about it? You`re going to be president of the United States, what are you going to do?
DEAN: What I`m going to do is appoint people to the FCC that believe democracy depends on getting information from all portions of the political spectrum, not just one.
So what we have here is a candidate exercising his mouth without having a clue as to how to back up what he’s saying — which is nothing new for Howard Dean. Having the intent of nominating FCC commissioners who are inclined to block mergers is a reasonable policy goal. Announcing that, if elected, you will break up major corporations without so much as an outline of a plan to accomplish it is much, much different, and extremely scary, especially for the many investors in these corporations.
Can somebody please remind me why Howard Dean is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination?
UPDATE: Jon at QandO has, as always, an excellent take on this. He points out that the mergers resulted from the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which was not on Bush’s watch. Plus, he explodes the fallacy of “concentrated ownership” in the Internet era.