Love him or hate him, Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), former employee of NBC, made Comcast’s befuddled CEO Brian “Comcatastrophe” Roberts look like a complete tool during yesterday’s hearing on the proposed Comcast/NBC mergepocalypse.
We don’t actually know if Brian “Comcatastrophe” Roberts is generally as confused and awkward as he appeared to be while trying to explain why Comcast would testify that FCC regulations provide adequate safeguards for consumers — after it just argued that the same rules were unconstitutional . Maybe he’s usually pretty sharp. We really don’t know.
Here’s what happened. Sen. Franken said that Comcatastrophe Roberts had met him in his office and said that the FCC rules “will make sure that you always have a wide variety of programs because they forbid [Comcast/NBC] from discriminating against other company’s programs.”
Then Franken pointed to a sign he had printed with a quote from Comcast’s attorneys saying that those same rules were unconstitutional.
“In other words, looking to get approval for this merger, you sat there in my office and told me to my face that these rules would protect consumers but your lawyers had just finished arguing in front of the Commission that it would be unconstitutional to apply these rules,” Franken said.
Comcatasrophe Roberts mumbled something about Comcast’s reputation in response. Then he said he was confused when they’d spoken previously. He barely got a word in before Franken moved on. It really wasn’t a great moment for him.