Friday, April 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 11:27 AM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.) opened a hearing on Comcast’s merger with Time Warner Cable by questioning how consumers will be impacted by the combination of the two largest cable companies in the industry.

“Consumers,” he said, don’t want complex explanations.

“They just want to know why their cable bills keep going up, they want to know why they do not have more choice of providers. Consumers are trying to find out whether or how this merger is good for them. I want to find out the same things,” Leahy said.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 11:09 AM

WASHINGTON – Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen called his company a representation of the “American Dream” that grew from a small outfit in Mississippi to be in the entity it is today.

Acquiring Time Warner Cable, he told Senators at a hearing on the merger, will give more people Comcast’s better technology and faster internet, expand its program to help low-income families get broadband service and allow the company to innovate and compete.

“Comcast represents the American dream,” Cohen said. “If this transaction is approved, it will give us the scale and reach to innovate and compete against our national and global competitors.”

POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 10:44 AM

WASHINGTON -- Utah Sen. Mike Lee questioned whether a combined Comcast-Time Warner would have added power to discriminate against conservative views as the Senate Judiciary Committee opened a hearing on the merger.

"Considering the significant share of the video and internet market Comcat has, and considering the well-known political leanings of NBC, I’ve heard concern that Comcast might have the incentive and the ability to discriminate against certain political content, including, for example, conservative political content, and that capacity could be signficnatly enhanced as a result of this transaction,"  Lee, one of the Senate's most conservative members, said  in his opening statement.

MSNBC has become an openly liberal answer to Fox News.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 10:17 AM

WASHINGTON – Comcast’s critics launched broadsides Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary committee hearing on the company's merger even began.

Veria Living, which bills itself as an independent cable channel focusing on health and wellness, handed out a statement blasting Comcast for shutting it out – a move that the company charges violates the terms of Comcast’s 2011 merger with NBC-Universal.

“We’ve pursued Comcast on a regular basis, but their message has been plain, namely, that they will meet with us as many times as we like, but not give us a deal,” the company’s chief executive, Eric Sherman, wrote to senators in advance of the hearing. “Comcast’s manner of compliance with the fCC NBC Universal consent decree raises doubts about the company’s commitment to supporting truly independent, creative, entrepreneurial networks.

POSTED: Wednesday, April 9, 2014, 9:50 AM

WASHINGTON – Comcast has made its case, and so have critics of the Philadelphia giant’s plans to acquire Time Warner Cable, the second largest cable company in the nation.

Today, we hear from federal lawmakers, who have been quiet so far about the proposed transaction. The Senate Judiciary Committee is hosting the first public hearing on the Comcast proposal, and one member of the panel – Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.), is among of the company’s sharpest critics.

Others have been more circumspect so far, though Sen. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) told me last week that he hopes to use today’s hearing to “bat down” some “demagoguery” directed at the company.

POSTED: Saturday, March 29, 2014, 12:58 PM
Former Eagles linebacker and current WIP radio co-host Garry Cobb, seen here with former president George W. Bush at Philadelphia International Airport, will announce his candidacy for a South Jersey Congressional seat Monday. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP file photo)

WASHINGTON – Ex-Eagles linebacker Garry Cobb will announce his candidacy for a South Jersey Congressional seat Monday, according to a press release issued Saturday.

Cobb, now a WIP radio sports personality who has never run for office before, has said for weeks that he intended to run for the open seat centered on Camden County, but had not made his decision official. Monday is the filing deadline for candidates.

Cobb will run as a Republican and will face an uphill fight to win the seat that was vacated in February by former U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews (D., N.J.). The district is heavily Democratic – Andrews typically won better than 60 percent of the vote.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 5:13 PM
Chaka Fattah Jr is suing the IRS agents, seeking nearly $1 million in damages. ( DAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer )

WASHINGTON – Chaka Fattah Jr., the son of Philadelphia U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), has amended his lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service to include the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice and now seeks punitive damages of $9.1 million, in addition to the nearly $1 million in damages he sought when he first filed his suit last week.

Fattah Jr. filed the amended suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, turning an 18-page filing into a sprawling 51-page compilation of allegations, harms and personal observations, sometimes in first person.

His suit details how Google now suggests damaging search terms in relation to his name after raids on his home and office appeared in news reports; his admiration for the way Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, once fought federal authorities; negative publicity that has hounded him, including a disparaging Tweet from the popular Philadelphia-based Web site Philebrity, and questions whether federal agents put him in danger by making his home address widely known when they visited his home at the Residences at the Ritz-Carlton in 2012, with journalists waiting outside.

POSTED: Saturday, March 22, 2014, 10:44 AM
New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday that Western nations' “policies toward Russia require an urgent reexamination."

WASHINGTON – New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Saturday that Western nations' “policies toward Russia require an urgent reexamination” and again called for the U.S. and European Union to “seriously consider” economic sanctions.

Delivering the keynote speech to EU and NATO leaders in Brussels at the German Marshall Fund, the Democrat said there is “no greater and potentially transformational challenge than Russia’s aggression in Ukraine” and that the West’s reaction will have “world-shaping consequences.”

The fund is a think tank that promotes transatlantic cooperation. Menendez opened with another reference to the Russian sanctions that have banned Menendez and other U.S. officials and lawmakers from traveling to the country.

About this blog

Jonathan Tamari is the Inquirer’s Washington correspondent. He writes about the lawmakers, politics and policy that affect Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Tamari previously covered the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL. Before that he worked in Trenton, reporting on the characters and color of New Jersey state government. He lives in Washington.

Reach Jonathan at jtamari@phillynews.com.

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