Comcast Bullies Seattle Nonprofit Over FCC Criticism

Comcast got caught out acting the bully and trying to silence a small-time critic. It's yet another reason to worry how the newly merged entity might abuse its power.

You may remember Comcast hired former FCC commissioner Meredith Baker after she voted to allow the company to take over NBC Universal. It was, and is, outrageous. It's exactly the kind of unseemly, backroom deal that makes people mistrust the government.

Like many others (Giz included) the move outraged Reel Grrls, a Seattle nonprofit that helps young women learn multimedia skills, and they fired off a tweet about it.

But one of the non-profit's donors is Comcast, and shortly after the tweet, the company informed Reel Grrls that it was yanking its funding. That didn't last long. After the Washington Post got wind of the dust-up, Comcast came back with its hat in its hand.

"We are in the process of reaching out to ReelGrrls in Seattle and let them know the funding the organization has received from Comcast is not in jeopardy and we sincerely apologize for the unauthorized action of our employee," [Comcast spokeswoman Sena] Fitzmaurice said. "This is not the way Comcast behaves toward its nonprofit partners."

Yeesh. While it's great that Comcast came to its senses and walked back the threat (made by a VP of communications!) it only did that after it received negative publicity. The real issue here is the abuse of power. To what ends will Comcast NBC Universal go to silence critics?

If Comcast wanted to show real sensitivity to this issue, it would recognize that bringing on Baker is an abuse of power. Yes, we're sure she will be a very valuable employee. But it's nasty, and wrong, and the company ought to recognize that. Rather than trying to silence critics, it ought to quietly encourage her to resign