U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa has always used Twitter in a rather bizarre way. After all, who can forget Grassley classics like “PantsBurnLegWood” of 2009 and “WH:ANSWER MY LETTER” of 2017? But the senator’s tweets over the weekend were particularly weird, even if you agreed with his central premise.
“These cable companies are getting to big like goggle so they can ignore their customers FNC has taken their ticker off. For those of us tired of hearing the same story ten times we can mute and read. So now just turn to another channel NOT HISTORY CH,” Grassley tweeted with several grammatical and spelling errors.
Presumably, “goggle” is a reference to Google and not eye protection, while “FNC” probably means Fox News Channel. And while Grassley is certainly correct that cable companies have gotten too large, his entire career has allowed that to happen. Grassley, an enormously powerful person as one of just 100 U.S. senators, has sat back and watched as media companies have consolidated since he was first elected in 1980.
While Grassley has stressed that each new merger and acquisition should be looked at closely by regulators, promising a “robust” review almost every time, he hasn’t come out emphatically against the mergers that have given Americans the current Big Five media companies, including AT&T, Comcast, Disney, ViacomCBS, and the Fox Corporation.
And all of that is to say nothing of Grassley’s strange obsession with the History Channel not having enough history programming. The senator frequently tweets about what’s on TV, as we might expect of a man who’s 87 years old and should’ve retired a long time ago. But his obsession with TV, matched with his frequent spelling errors and bizarre syntax make it clear he shouldn’t be in elected office anymore.
When Grassley was born in 1933, TV was largely a plaything of the ultra-rich in the U.S. There were just a handful of television sets in the U.S. in 1933, including just half a dozen TVs in Los Angeles, and a scattering more in Grassley’s home state of Iowa, thanks to experiments that were conducted at the University of Iowa. The world is a very different place here in 2021 with many different challenges, and if Grassley is serious about breaking up the big cable companies he should introduce a bill that proposes to do just that.
If Grassley isn’t serious about antitrust enforcement or making laws that would strengthen the ability of regulators to actually do something to break up America’s Big Five, he should get out of the way and maybe give someone younger a chance. Like a sprightly 80-year-old.