Meredith Baker: FCC’s Stand-Up Commissioner


We wouldn’t suggest that
Federal Communications Commission
member Meredith Attwell
Baker give up her day job, but she
did get some pretty big laughs with
her tweaking of National Cable
& Telecommunications Association
president Kyle McSlarrow and
even super-mogul Rupert Murdoch
at last Wednesday’s Media
Institute dinner in Washington.

Baker, a Republican, said the
night was her kind of a “fair and
balanced event: We are honoring
a big Republican politician and a
big Republican donor.”

Turning to Murdoch, the chairman
of Fox and New YorkPost
parent News Corp., she said:
“When James Madison sat down
to draft the First Amendment,
I’m sure he had to sit there and
think: One day, a publisher may
run with the headline: ‘Kiss Your
Asteroid Goodbye,’ and a cartoonist
would teach us that, if babies
and dogs could actually talk,
what they’d say might be really
filthy. Well, James Madison, Rupert’s
New York Post and Family
answered those dreams.

“As for Kyle, the former head
of the Quayle presidential campaign,”
she said, “I saw him double
checking that tonight’s menu
spelled ‘potato’ correctly. Old
habits really do die hard.”

McSlarrow, in accepting the institute’s
Freedom of Speech Award,
exercised his right not to return
the zinger, saying he would save it
for another time. He did say “that
was really uncalled for.” Th en added:
“Those of you who actually
watched the Quayle [vice presidential]
debate know that was a

The Wire, of course, caught McSlarrow’s
allusion. It was how Quayle
responded to opponent Lloyd
Bentsen’s famous observation that
Quayle was no Jack Kennedy.

Baker also had some actual
high praise for the potent pair.
She praised Murdoch, who got
the American Horizon Award, for
“powerful and timely leadership
in resisting a government bailout
of journalism.”

As for McSlarrow, she made it
clear she thought that Quayle’s
loss was cable’s gain. “Time has
shown that NCTA, was very, very
right, and the cable industry has
been extremely lucky to have a
consistent champion, a steady
leader and a true visionary to ensure
a solid regulatory foundation
for the future of cable and

Former NCTA president Decker
Anstrom, who co-chaired the
search committee that selected
McSlarrow six years ago, cited
McSlarrow’s early work at NCTA
dealing with a content inquiry.
He emphasized cable’s First
Amendment rights and the use
of parental controls rather than
in dealing with a content inquiry.

“In that first test, he displayed
the skills to unite the NCTA board
around First Amendment and deregulatory
principles” and to resist
pressure for “sweeping new
cable programming regs.”

Those abilities, he said, are
“unique and critical.”

Ovation, TWC, 92Y
Add Celeb Writers
To Local VOD Mix

Time Warner Cable’s New York City subscribers
will soon see an upgrade to their
local video-on-demand content, via a partnership
with the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan
and the Ovation network.

TWC’s New York system and Ovation
are backing the Y’s Poetry Center Schools
Project, which supports public highschool
students learning to turn their life
experiences into poetry, essays and fiction.
It led off, fittingly, with singer-songwriter
Rosanne Cash, who lives in the city
and recently published a memoir, Composed.
She met with students involved in
the project Thursday night (Oct. 7), followed
by a conversation with novelist
A.M. Homes in the Y’s lecture hall. All of it
was taped for later use on Ovation’s website
and on TWC’s local video-on-demand
service, channel 1111.

The Wire recommends Cash’s thoughtful
comments about the writing process, about
Twitter as a form of café society and the
three songs she performed, including Seven
Year Ache
. She also said her dad, Johnny
Cash, didn’t own a black hat.

Jonathan Franzen, Salman Rushdie and
Maxine Hong Kingston are scheduled to
participate later in the series. No word on
whether they too will sing.

History Magazine
Tosses Out Kernels
Of Candy Corn Fact

Candy corn, the quintessential Halloween
treat, was invented by Philadelphia candy
maker George Renninger in the 1880s.
He tested the look by tossing “kernels”
to chickens to
see if they’d be

That candy
corn lore comes
from the September/
issue of History:
The History Channel

Other facts:
the eight-step manufacturing process was
so labor intensive, candy corn was only
made a few months a year. It was a popular
fall harvest treat, becoming a Halloween
staple when trick-or-treating took off after
World War II.

About 9 billion pieces are made each
year. Stacked end to end, they’d circle the
moon four times.

Thought you’d want to know.