Politico was reporting late Thursday that FCC Chairman Julius
Genachowski Friday would announce that he was leaving the commission, perhaps
the worst-kept secret in Washington.
months, the question has not been whether but when the chairman would leave, at
least according to Washington lobbyists and
attorneys. As recently as the press conference after the FCC's monthly meeting
March 18, Genachowski said there was nothing to report, deflecting the question
he has been getting for months.
spokesman for the chairman declined comment on the report, which did not say
when the chairman planned to leave. He has agreed to address the National
Association of Broadcasters convention next month.
announcement would come only days after Commissioner Robert McDowell announced
he would be leaving in the next several weeks. The exit of both would allow the
Administration to pair Republican and Democratic nominees.
the leading names for Genachowski's big chair is former National Cable & Telecommunications
Association President Tom Wheeler. Wheeler, managing director of Core Capital
Partners, was a fund-raiser for President Obama and tech policy advisor for the
transition team and beyond. He is a former wireless exec and head of CTIA, and
a renaissance man who wrote a book on leadership lessons from the Civil War.
said to be in the hunt are Jason Furman, the "whip-smart economist" (as one
Democrat puts it) who is assistant to the president for economic policy. Furman
is said to be about on
par with longtime Obama adviser Karen Kornbluh.
Press, which celebrated Genachowski's arrival, also applauded his potential
exit. "Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following
Julius Genachowski took office, there were high hopes that he would use his
powerful position to promote the public interest," said Free Press
President Craig Aaron. "But instead of acting as the people's champion,
he's catered to corporate interests. His tenure has been marked by wavering and
caving rather than the strong leadership so needed at this crucial
a talk at the Free State Foundation, former FCC Broadband Plan architect Blair
Levin, invoked Lincoln in advising creative thinking about making the
transition to an all digital world. Wheeler is said to be a Lincoln scholar, and the
comment could be read as advice to the possible chairman. "[T]he economic
foundations of the social contract necessary to drive the deployment of the
voice and video networks are eroding and will not suffice to drive continual
improvements in our broadband networks. In that light, as Lincoln said,
'the dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present...as our case
is new, we must think anew and act anew.'"