‘Crony capitalism’ charge on Comcast merger is collapsing

Comcast truck 2014
POMPANO BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 13: A Comcast truck is seen parked at one of their centers on February 13, 2014 in Pompano Beach, Florida. Today, Comcast announced a $45-billion offer for Time Warner Cable. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photograph by Joe Raedle — Getty Images

When Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) first announced their $45 billion merger last February, the criticism came quick. Most of it was from those concerned that the pairing would only further reduce competition in a cable television and broadband marketplace where many consumers already were dealing with virtual monopolies.

But there also was a smaller group that used the merger as an opportunity to bash the Obama Administration for alleged crony capitalism — insisting that the deal would fly through because of ties between the White House and Comcast’s C-suite.

Now that the merger appears to be on death’s door, are these same folks getting ready to write their apology posts? (Update: It’s dead)

For example, here was Matthew Continetti in The National Review: “There is little chance the merger will be stopped. Comcast, Time Warner, and their political fixers have spent years preparing for this moment — by buying off the Democratic party.”

And then there was Kerri Toloczko in a widely-read Forbes post titled: “How Obama’s Justice Department Selectively Blocked A Merger By Republican CEOs.” She isn’t quite as certain about the merger’s outcome as was Continetti, but does assert that, in such matters, “money buys favors from the Obama Administration.”

Want more? How about Dennis Kneale: “However terrifying, #1 Comcast’s buy of #2 TWC may well win approval — from the same Obama Administration that put the kibosh on AT&T’s $39 billion bid for T-Mobile and nixed the notion of a Sprint-T-Mobile tie-up. Why the special treatment? Let’s look at access, connections and overlapping agendas. Comcast’s ownership of MSNBC, the de facto Obama Network, can’t hurt its standing in the White House.”

I even saw some subsequent arguments in less reputable places about how Obama only pushed for net neutrality rules in an effort to give cover to the Comcast-TWC merger

To be clear, regulators have not yet formally ruled on Comcast-TWC. But since news reports first surfaced last week that the deal was in serious trouble, none of the three aforementioned writers have yet offered up a follow-up post nor even mentioned the news via their Twitter accounts. Now who’s selectively blocking things?

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