Comcast after Trump

Tom Paine

You’d think Comcast would be happy to see Donald Trump (eventually) depart the White House. Back in February of this year, Trump said in a speech:

“NBC, I think, is worse than CNN,” Trump said. “And Comcast, a company that spends millions and millions of dollars on their image — I’ll do everything possible to destroy their image because they are terrible.”

Whether that attitude stemmed from something dating back to his time with his NBC show “The Apprentice”, the apparent leaking of his raunchy conversation with Billy Bush, or NBC News’ and MSNBC’s typically harsh coverage of his candidacy and presidency, Trump is certainly known for carrying a grudge, repeatedly threatening to break up Comcast on antitrust grounds though there was no legal basis for that. He repeatedly referred to Comcast as “Concast ” on the campaign trail this year.

But for Comcast’s NBC, the bitter relationship may have been a positive, especially in a city like Philadelphia where many held Trump in low esteem.

Trump appeared in an NBC Town Hall in late October, going against a Biden Town Hall appearing at the same time on another network. And NBC took a great deal of criticism for hosting that show.

Trump never shared a round of golf with Brian Roberts, to the best of my knowledge, as President Obama did. In March, Trump spoke with Roberts along with several other telecom executives on a conference call. I’m not aware of any other direct contact between the two men during Trump’s presidency.

There is talk now that Trump might become a competitor in the cable news business.

But on one point Comcast may miss Trump. FCC chairman Ajit Pai booted Net Neutrality regulations, and removed many barriers to media consolidation, among other things. Under Biden, he would lose his chairmanship as the majority reverts back to the Democrats, and is widely expected to depart the commission. The Biden administration may attempt to revive net neutrality, though Congress and the Courts could push back.

Comcast Senior Vice President David Cohen, who stepped down this year from a broad portfolio of responsibilities including Washington affairs, is still on staff as an advisor. Cohen, 65, may have less political influence in Philly now due to the rise of progressives, who are less likely to listen to a centrist like him. But. he is close to Biden, for whom he held a fundraiser at his home right after Biden declared his candidacy, and can work across the aisle with Republicans. Certainly he can be a valuable asset for Comcast given the new administration, though he seems determined to slow down a little.