February 23, 2008

McCain's Paxson Problem

Sexual trysts aside, the substance of the Vicki Iseman buzz is starting to gain attention in the main stream media (DemocracyNow had been onto it earlier). According to Market Watch, via the Washington Post:
In a new twist to a potential scandal brewing on the campaign trail, broadcaster Lowell Paxson disputed statements from Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign that the senator did not meet with Paxson or his lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, in 1999.

However, Lowell "Bud" Paxson remembers it differently.

"I remember going there to meet with him." He said he told McCain: "You're head of the Commerce Committee. The FCC is not doing its job. I would love for you to write a letter."

The letter that McCain eventually wrote to pressure the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was in violation of ex parte rules barring outside pressure. The FCC commissioners function like judges in matters of interpretation of regulation, and McCain tried to pressure those judges. For more background and links to an in-depth piece from the perspective of the other side of the Paxson FCC case my essay: Keating Five Belies McCain's Record.

Note: Paxson Communications is now called Ion Media Networks. Paxson "PAX TV" grew throughout the 1980s and 1990s buying stations on the fringe of markets, catering to shopping, informercials and religious programming. According to Wikipedia:

In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the company wanted to buy WPCB, channel 40, from Cornerstone Television, and move the license to channel 16 (which was, and still is, occupied by WQEX), with channel 40 used for educational purposes. The two agreed on a purchase price, but the Federal Communications Commission had too many questions about the deal, most relating to the type of broadcast license to be operated on each channel, and it fell through.

So, Paxson's Pittsburgh deal fell thru, despite, or perhaps as a rebuke of, McCain's pressure. Remember, in 1999, the FCC was of a majority Democratic composition reflected by the Clinton administration.


San Fransisco Market Watch,
McCain's denial of lobbyist meeting disputed: report
, Sue Chang, February 23, 2008.


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