Al Franken Uses Supreme Court Confirmation Hearing To Talk Sh*t About Comcast

Hey, when the mic is on and you’re irritated about something, why not bring it up? Al Franken used the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Elena Kagan to talk some sh*t about his good friends Comcast and NBC and their planned nuptials.

He started by explaining that he is “extremely concerned” about the planned merger between NBC and Comcast, and said that “media consolidation really matters in a fundamental way.”

Franken told Kagan he feels that “when the same company owns programming and runs the pipes that bring us programming, I think we have a problem. I’m interested in the ways the Supreme Court affects the information that you and I get when you turn on the TV or read the newspaper.”

“60 years ago in United States V The Associated Press the Supreme Court found that the [1st] amendment supported aggressive anti-trust enforcement,” he continued.

“If Comcast and NBC merge, I worry that AT&T and Verizon are going to decide that, well, they have to buy ABC, CBS to compete. And that will mean there will be less independent programming, fewer voices, and a smaller marketplace of ideas. That’s a First Amendment problem. It’s also an anti-trust problem.”

Kagan was polite and eventually said she would defer to people who know more about anti-trust policy issues than she does.

Sen. Al Franken Challenges Elena Kagan On Proposed NBC/Comcast Merger


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  1. jeffjohnvol says:

    How this man got elected is beyond me.

    • Billy says:

      I know. It was a rare flash of genius.

      • Master Medic: Now with more Haldol says:

        From the same “flash of genius” that brought us Governor Jesse Ventura?

        • Billy says:

          Actually, the Jesse Ventura thing is the norm…and that’s why the election of Franken was the flash of genius.

          I thought that was clear.

    • fs2k2isfun says:

      He didn’t. He stole the election.

      • dadelus says:

        How do you steal an election from someone who got fewer votes then you?

        • johnva says:

          The lizard people split the vote with the Republican.

        • fs2k2isfun says:

          He didn’t. Look at the only objective vote count, the election night machine count. Coleman won easily. It wasn’t until many ballots from heavily Dem districts were “found” that Franken took the lead.

      • PsiCop says:

        That’s what everyone says, now, when his/her candidate doesn’t win. By now, it’s an old — and still very childish — whine. Maybe someday the country will grow up and stop with the “sour grapes” when they don’t get their way … but not any time soon, I fear.

    • Jason says:

      Need more like him

    • Megalomania says:

      One of the main problems with legislation that involves technology is that many of the legislators know fuck all about technology, and then most of the constituents know even less than they do about technology or don’t know that anything is even happen. The NBC/Comcast merger is not troubling because of who the two specific companies are, but because of the precedent it would set in mixing the message and medium when it comes to digital communication.

      Can you name anything Franken has done that does not appear to be pro-constituent?

    • Tim says:

      Because he’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and doggone it, people like him.

    • Megalomania says:

      I would love it if more people would admit it when they don’t know about a subject. If legislators actually recused themselves from voting on issues they were completely uninformed about, we would have hundreds fewer laws that are based on faulty claims and baseless arguments (the DMCA comes to mind). Judges – and legislators – are supposed to be chosen for their ability to make decisions, not because they’re subject matter experts in every topic.

      Not that I particularly like Kagan, but supreme court judges in particular are not chosen for their expertise in small aspects of the law, and I would rather have someone who’s willing to admit they don’t know something and then research it when necessary than a blustering fool who takes everything they’ve been told at face value and parrots out what they think will be popular (looking at you on that one, Joe Biden)

    • bdcw says:

      The reason this man got elected is because smarter people than you voted for him.

    • Enduro says:

      Franken has been awesome so far. I wish Michigan had two more like him. The great state of Texas gave us the greatest “how did this man get elected?” ever. Of course, the answer is he didn’t but I digress.

    • Mobius says:

      Because myself and others like me voted for him because he represents our views. He then got more votes than his competitor. It’s called democracy and it’s pretty awesome.

      • alstein says:

        Wasn’t it a typical MN 3-way cluster of a race? That said, Franken on anti-trust has at least impressed me a little.

        • Mobius says:

          It was just between Franken and Coleman, really. There was a third party guy but he didn’t have a chance this time. The initial result was close and in Coleman’s favor by 215 votes. A mandatory recount that Coleman tried to prevent was done and Franken pulled ahead by 225 votes. Coleman then demanded additional recounts with RNC financial backing and claimed all sorts of voter fraud, so that was cool and expensive. He was a seriously sore loser. 7 months after the initial election, and the court ruling on no more appeals, Franken was declared the victor.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Because a comedian is more worthy of your trust than a politician any day.

    • coren says:

      He got a majority of votes cast. I didn’t realize that part washard to understand.

    • rage says:

      Tennessee figures.

  2. Coelacanth says:

    If somebody’s trying to prove they’re qualified to receive the job of being a Supreme Court Justice, I’m disappointed that any candidate could even imagine “deferring their opinion” to “those who know more.”

    If you’re on the Supreme Court of the United States, you’d better be an expert on pretty much any issue tossed your way! Or, am I expecting too much?

    • PunditGuy says:

      You think they have a machine in chambers that plugs them into the Matrix or something? “Whoa — I know anti-trust law.”

      They’re not experts in everything. They can’t be. They’ve got a staff that’s paid to look stuff up for them.

    • Jnetty says:

      The Supreme Court didn’t know the difference between emails, text messages a few weeks ago in a case involving texting at work. This is what they asked.

      “Chief Justice Roberts: What is the difference between texting and E Mail?

      At one point, Justice Anthony Kennedy asked what would happen if a text message was sent to an officer at the same time he was sending one to someone else.

      Justice Scalia seemed surprised that the text message goes to the server, and not directly to the phone.

      “You mean (the text) doesn’t go right to me?” he asked.”

      • PunditGuy says:

        You’ve taken the Roberts question completely out of context. He wanted to know why the rules that are established for email should be different from rules that would apply to texting.

        And seriously, fuck you for making me defend Roberts.

      • Thyme for an edit button says:

        Roberts was asking what the legal difference is between them.

        Imagine there is a law that says, “All fruits must have pretty stickers on them. Fruits include, but are not limited to: apples, oranges, bananas, and berries. This law does not apply to vegetables.”

        The someone sues because there is no pretty sticker on their avocado. If the case goes to the Supreme Court, a judge would want an attorney to answer the question, “What is the difference between an orange and an avocado?” From a legal point of view, there may be no difference. That’s what the attorneys would argue about and then the judge would decide.

    • snapdoodle says:

      too much. it’s not that you are an encyclopedia of knowledge but that you possess the critical thinking skills necessary to interpret law as it applies to cases that appear before the court.

      the difference is the the difference between a problem solver and a know-it all.

    • AjariBonten says:

      that’s what law clerks are for.

    • BigDave says:

      That’s like asking a psychiatrist to perform heart surgery. While am MD, the psych is not a heart specialist. Non-attorneys seem to think lawyers “learn all the laws” in law school. No, we learn how to think and analyze like lawyers. Each lawyer has specialties – no one can be an expert in every area.

    • dg says:

      I don’t think you’re expecting too much at all. She could have at least said “It’s not my area of expertise, but how about I look into it and give you a response at tomorrow’s hearings Senator?”

      This cop-out BS really irritates me. We’re going to give this woman a lifetime job – before we commit to that, we need to know all about her…

  3. EverCynicalTHX says:

    So he quit napping and doodling to bring up some irrelevant thing during a confirmation hearing..who voted for this idiot??

    • voogru says:

      Dead people and illegal immigrants probably…

    • Billy says:

      Concern about the First Amendment and Anti-Trust laws is “irrelevant” to you?

      And you’re calling Franken the idiot?

    • Mobius says:

      The majority of voters? Some people really don’t understand how people get elected and that’s pretty pathetic. I bet you don’t even live in Minnesota. I certainly hope you don’t.

    • Ichabod says:

      Idiot? Fuck you he’s the smartest guy in congress. The average congressman is moron with charisma or a truck load of money.

      • EverCynicalTHX says:

        Is this acceptable here? Ban this loser for profanity..he obviously can’t control his keyboard..

  4. ALP5050 says:

    This man stole the election from Norm Coleman.

    • BigDave says:

      If by “stole” you mean “beat a Republican” in crazy GOP paranoid speak. Wanna see his birth certificate, too?

    • cromartie says:

      No, actually, your counties weren’t bright enough to count their votes correctly the first time.

      But I hear has Norm has plenty of free time nowadays. Perhaps you could head over to his house and help him count the oil industry money his wife laundered for him.

    • COBBCITY says:

      I have to disagree and I don’t care if Norm Coleman is a Republican or Democrat.

      1. The state had no idea how to count votes. Shame on them.

      2. Norm Coleman and his people did a HORRID job with PR and spin. He came off as nasty and as if no matter the real outcome, he was going to make sure he won, even if he had to sue. That caused Franken to look much more civilized and swayed public opinion. Politics is half public relations and Coleman dropped the ball.

      • Ryan says:

        No, the state of Minnesota has very explicit instructions on how to count votes and ballots that are actually questionable are sent to a committee who decides by majority what the intention of the voter was. For instance, if Florida had the same recount laws in 2000 as Minnesota, punchcard ballots with hanging chads and pregnant chads would be counted if a single candidate was chosen and we would be talking about President Gore and former Governor Bush.

        Of course, statewide, Minnesota has used machine readable paper ballots at least since 1996, when I first voted, that have bubbles that are filled in with a ballpoint pen. There are no touchscreen machines with no paper trail or punch cards. Heck, at the precinct the voter feeds the ballot into the scanner after marking the ballot and the votes are tallied on the spot. I should mention that Minnesota has one of the highest turnout rates in the country. It probably helps that in Minnesota registration at the polls has been possible for over thirty years. All one needs is a utility bill and a government issued ID. Or failing that a registered voter in your precinct can vouch for you. Voter fraud has been waved about as a scare tactic over the years, but there is no evidence that fraud occurs on any scale or even could occur at any scale. There is occasionally some idiot who votes twice to show how easy it is, but then they end up being charged with voting fraud themselves. Granted, voter fraud is a felony, but even convicted felons can vote in Minnesota after serving their time. If a concern about voter fraud occurs, voter registration forms from various precincts can easily be compared after an election. Did I mention that attempting to go to a precinct and challenging everyone who intends to vote as a tactic of voter suppression is going to get one arrested, hauled off to jail, get charged with a crime, and not result in any actual challenges occurring?

        With that in mind, the standards and practices used in Minnesota elections are exceptionally good when it comes to an election in any western democracy much less the US. The Coleman/Franken election results were accurate with respect to the valid votes cast in that election. Don’t parrot the claims of right-wing pundits, the truth is often far different.

    • duxup says:

      Norm tanked it himself. He had a huge lead and then out of nowhere went ultra negative and kept loosing ground until the day of the election. Coleman’s recount legal challenges were so off the mark enough that Franken’s lawyers just had to adopt them and walk thru the courts winning every challenge. Norm blew it himself. So bad you’d almost think he wanted to.

  5. bigmil87 says:

    For those that ask who voted for him, I did and I’m damn proud of it. I love how he actually stands up to companies, and he uses media to make sure people hear about it. He is the first politician that I can say I do not harbor a single regret about voting for.

    • GinaLouise says:

      bigmil, I’ve got a total crush on your senator. It’s rare to see an unabashedly pro-consumer politician.

  6. EBE says:

    I find it very difficult to take Al Franken seriously. Every time I see I think of Stewart Smalley.

    Same thing goes for the Terminator.

  7. Supes says:

    I went to a baseball game last month and they were handing out red reusable Comcast bags at the entrance.

    I grabbed one, but mentioned I was kind of ashamed to use. While we were sitting down I borrowed a permanent marker from a friend (one of those big black ones) and wrote “SUCKS” in big letters underneath “Comcast.”

    Now I get high-fives and “Good Job”s every time I go out with this bag. It’s turned into a great conversation starter with total strangers.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      “While we were sitting down I borrowed a permanent marker from a friend (one of those big black ones) and wrote “SUCKS” in big letters underneath “Comcast.””

      You have many big black friends or just the one?


  8. peebozi says:

    free market = one company in the end….go ahead and dispute that, i dare you.

    • dadelus says:

      Which is exactly why the “free” market should be properly regulated.

    • tinyhands says:

      What does that have to do with the Elena Kagen confirmation??

      Franken is being a disrespectful cock, wasting everyone’s time on the wrong subject.

  9. COBBCITY says:

    While I kinda sorta see how he was bringing the Supreme Court into the Comcast thing, I can’t stand hearings like this.

    It does not matter what party they are in, the minute any one of them gets the mic they start rambling on and on either congratulating themselves, making sweeping speeches just so they are on camera or talking about unrelated garage.

    I wish each time one of them went over 3 minutes or wandered off topic, a air horn would blow and they were no longer allowed to speak. A few months of knocking them all into line should be eye opening.

  10. Ichabod says:

    I wish Franken represented my home state Michigan! Smartest man in Congress by a long shot!

  11. dg says:

    This guy actually has more brainpower than the rest of the morons in the House and Senate. He’s asking the questions that THEY should all be asking. And the candidate – Kagan – whatever her name is, she’s undergoing confirmation for a lifetime position – that of US Supreme Court Justice.

    SHE better damn well have an opinion on anti-trust issues, she better damn well be informed on the concept. And we have a right to KNOW what that opinion is. It’s likely that at some point during her lifetime, that some anti-trust case could come before the US Sup Ct, and she’d have to provide an opinion and perhaps dissent or concur.

    Saying “Gee, I don’t know” is a cop out. Big freekin cop out. That along with the non-responses she gave re: guns, her lack of published works to review, means she shouldn’t be confirmed.

    She ought to be sent packing now… stop wasting any more time on this fool.

  12. Gladeye says:

    He talks straight and stands up to big business. Franken doesn’t flip-flop on issues either and he is always very clear about where he stands on issues. Very few politicians can make that claim. Right wing grumps like to ridicule him and call him stupid and can’t wrap their heads around the reality that he USED TO be a (very funny) comedy writer. If you want cite something specific that he’s said or done that pissed you off, you have my respect. But don’t call him an idiot without backing it up with politically related facts.