"The sleeper issue is media giantism. People are beginning to grasp and resent the attempt by the Federal Communications Commission to allow the Four Horsemen of Big Media — Viacom (CBS, UPN), Disney (ABC), Murdoch's News Corporation (Fox) and G.E. (NBC) — to gobble up every independent station in sight.
Couch potatoes throughout the land see plenty wrong in concentrating the power to produce the content we see and hear in the same hands that transmit those broadcasts. This is especially true when the same Four Horsemen own many satellite and cable providers and already influence key sites on the Internet."
"The Bush veto threat would deny funding to the Commerce, State and Justice Departments, not to mention the federal judiciary. It would discombobulate Congress and disserve the public for months.
And to what end? To turn what we used to call "public airwaves" into private fiefs, to undermine diversity of opinion and — in its anti-federalist homogenization of our varied culture — to sweep aside local interests and community standards of taste.
This would be Bush's first veto. Is this the misbegotten principle on which he wants to take a stand? At one of the White House meetings that decided on the SAP approach, someone delicately suggested that such a veto of the giants' power grab might pose "a communications issue" for the president (no play on words intended). Friedman blew that objection away. The SAP threat was delivered.
In the House this week, allies of the Four Horsemen distributed a point sheet drawn from Viacom and Murdoch arguments and asked colleagues to sign a cover letter reading, "The undersigned members . . . will vote to sustain a Presidential veto of legislation overturning or delaying . . . the decision of the FCC . . . regarding media ownership."
But they couldn't obtain the signatures of anywhere near one-third of the House members — the portion needed to stop an override. Yesterday afternoon, the comprehensive bill — including an F.C.C. rollback — passed by a vote of 400 to 21.
If Bush wishes to carry out the veto threat, he'll pick up a bunch of diehards (now called "dead-enders"), but he will risk suffering an unnecessary humiliation."