A couple weeks back, HBO’s John Oliver questioned whether it was wise to fill the FCC Chairman vacancy with former cable/wireless lobbyist Tom Wheeler, likening the decision to a parent hiring a dingo as a babysitter. Wheeler takes issue with the comparison and is now publicly denying that he is a child-devouring canine.
In the original 13-minute segment from Last Week Tonight, Oliver referred to Wheeler’s previous jobs as president of wireless lobbying group CTIA and of the National Cable and Telecom Association.
“The guy who used to run the cable industry’s lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it,” quipped Oliver at the time. “That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.”
At last week’s open meeting of the full commission, Brendan Sasso of the National Journal asked Wheeler if he’d seen the Last Week Tonight piece on net neutrality.
“I think that it represents the… um… high level of interest [makes bizarre snuffle-laugh-chuckle] that exists in the topic in the country,” replied a very slow-speaking Chairman, “And that’s good.”
Then comes an amazing few seconds during which Wheeler stands silently, the only sound coming from his fingers tapping on the podium, before he deadpans, “Uhhhhmmm… You know, I would like to state for the record that I’m not a dingo… I had to go look it up; it’s a feral, wild animal in Australia.
In response, Oliver points out that he never actually called Wheeler a dingo; he made a dingo-related analogy. But now the host wonders if the Chairman doth protest too much.
“You’re denying it so strenuously, I’m honestly starting to wonder whether you are actually a dingo after all,” said Oliver, who then challenged Wheeler to answer questions like, “Have you, at any time, ever consumed a swamp wallaby for its nutrients?”
Finally, he demanded undeniable proof of the Chairman’s lack of dingo-ness.
“Unless you can produce an official document verified by a licensed zoologist, certifying that you are not a 100% talking dingo, I don’t think you can complain if Americans refuse to leave you alone in rooms with their babies.”