Magazine article ADWEEK

Which Way Will Wheeler Work?

Magazine article ADWEEK

Which Way Will Wheeler Work?

Article excerpt

Tom Wheeler's detractors say he's conflict of interest incarnate. Will the FCC chair prove them wrong?

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has an image problem. The New Yorker's article about him on the occasion of his confirmation last year was called "Obama's Bad Pick." In the piece, John Cassidy observed that Wheeler seemed bright and independent. "(T]o some extent, though," he wrote, "you are your resume," and Wheeler's resume includes high-level posts at cable lobbying organizations. John Oliver memorably said in June that hiring Wheeler for the position at the notoriously mismanaged commission "was the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo."

Oddly, out of all the disparaging things said about Wheeler since his appointment, that appears to be the one that stung. Sighing, Wheeler took a question on Oliver's Last Week Tonight segment (which dealt with net neutrality) at a public comment session and said, "I would like to state for the record that I'm not a dingo."

He seems to have set out to prove it. Last month, Wheeler delivered whatever the telecommunications equivalent of a rabble-rousing speech is, citing the virtues of regulation and observing that "three-quarters of American homes have no competitive choice for the essential infrastructure for 21st-century economics and democracy."

This is hardly the kind of rhetoric hoped for by Comcast and AT&T, both of which praised Wheeler's appointment ("an inspired pick" to take on "outdated laws" and "antiquated rules," breathed AT&T). …

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