What would it take to dissuade critics from the M&A skeptics crowd from continuing to condemn the proposed Comcast/Time Warner Cable deal— even to the point of suggesting that support of a host of community groups for the deal has been bought and paid for? Perhaps an endorsement from the National Conference of Bishops? Or word from the ghost of Walter Cronkite, the iconic “most trusted man” in America? Is that the way it is?
An expected flood of support came from local organizations such as the Urban League, various Latino groups, Boys and Girls Clubs and others who, rather than collectively jerking their knees, chose to support the deal. The supporting groups pointed to their own experience with Comcast. Not only its donations, but its tech support and volunteerism.
We can’t look into the hearts of Comcast execs and see whether its history of being a good actor in the community was all part of its master plan to gain approval of its merger with Time Warner Cable this year. But results are results.
The facts are that Comcast provided support to these communities, which translated into tangible benefits. Did Comcast encourage its friends to weigh in? Sure, but asking references to be on a résumé is hardly a nefarious scheme.
The deal will have to be judged on more than just charity at home, of course. But it is insulting to these groups —not to mention a little premature—to marginalize their support in an effort to strengthen a case against the deal.