A Harvard Law School buddy of
President Barack Obama while both served on the Harvard Law Review,
he has a highly advanced grasp of new media, the Internet and technological
innovation, with strategic goals to push America far to the left.
friend and basketball buddy of President Barack
Obama: a year younger (born in 1962), he is the son of Eastern
European Jewish immigrants who fled the Holocaust. He was raised in
Great Neck, on Long Island, and educated in New York City. He earned his
undergraduate degree at Columbia University (1985, history, magna cum
laude), where he was an
editor of the Columbia Daily Spectator.
had graduated from Columbia
two years earlier - without honors
- but the two did not know each other at Columbia.)
Out of undergraduate,
worked on Capitol Hill as an aide to
then-Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Genachowski attended Harvard Law School (1989-1991),
classmate with Barack Obama, and served as notes editor on the
Harvard Law Review when it was headed by Obama. The
two took breaks playing basketball, and became close friends. Genachowski
told the Washington Post, "We were two
guys with funny names, and our backgrounds, while different, shared some
important features that brought us together," he said. "My parents were
immigrants, and we have our share of Holocaust stories. So we shared an
appreciation that people with backgrounds like his and mine could end up
at a place like Harvard, where we never expected to be."
Genachowski and Obama graduated
Harvard Law magna cum laude together in 1991, attended
each other’s weddings, and have remained close friends.
After law school, Genachowski’s career took
the Washington path.
He first clerked for federal appeals court
judge Abner Mikva (U.S. Court of Appeals for
the D.C. Circuit), taking a job that Obama turned down
(Mikva had arranged a job for Obama at the Chicago law firm he headed
before being appointed a federal judge).
Genachowski subsequently clerked for two
Supreme Court justices,
and William Brennan Jr.
In 1994, during
the Clinton administration, Genachowski served under two Federal
heads: Reed Hundt and William Kennard
stints as adviser and general counsel
In 1998, he left government for the private
as Chief of Business Operations and a member of
billionaire Barry Diller's Office of the
Chairman at IAC/InterActiveCorp
(which made him a multi-millionaire).
He had previously served on the Boards of
Directors of Expedia, Hotels.com and Ticketmaster.
He founded two
D.C.-based venture capital firms, Rock Creek Ventures and LaunchBox
was also a special advisor at General Atlantic
and a member of the Boards of Directors at The Motley Fool, Web.com,
Mark Ecko Enterprises, and Beliefnet. He was appointed to the board of
JackBe in April 2006.
He serves as a board member of Common
Sense Media, a leading organization seeking to improve the media lives
of children and families; and as an advisory board member of
Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2). He also helped found the New Resource
Bank, the country’s first commercial "green bank."
Genachowski began working on a huge government reform plan
in 2007, when he chaired the Technology,
Media and Telecommunications policy task force that created
the Obama Technology and Innovation Plan. He
urged Obama to harness the power of the Internet in the 2008
presidential campaign, to create social networking tools on the Internet
so voters could rally for Obama’s causes, an element of the campaign
that was inventive and successful. Candidate
Obama adopted his friend's plan in
unprecedented ways that will reverberate throughout future political
After Obama won the election, Genachowski
co-led the Technology, Innovation, and Government Reform Group for
Obama’s presidential transition team, working closely with transition
leader John Podesta, who was on leave from the
Democrat think tank,
Center for American Progress, which was also working on Obama’s media
In June 2007, Podesta's
group published a crucial social-change document titled,
Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.
One of the seven co-authors was
employed by John Podesta as a Senior Fellow (2004-2008) on
communications issues in his Center.
The document's authors complained that media ownership was dominated by
conservatives, which gave conservative talk shows an unfair advantage
over progressive talk. It recommended new regulations that were
vigorously opposed by media companies.
Lloyd and his six
coauthors wanted to cap the number of radio stations owned by a single
company. They noted that 91 percent of the weekday talk-radio
programming supported by the top five commercial station-owners in the
U.S. is conservative. The coauthors wanted
government to force progressive talk onto the air, requiring radio
stations to broadcast large amounts of "local community content" that
would crowd out conservative talk; they wanted to force "local
accountability" rules on stations for renewing licenses, so they could
orchestrate public disapproval from their activist
constituency to kill licenses.
When Genachowski later selected Lloyd as FCC Media Diversity Officer,
the report became an issue.
On March 3, 2009, Genachowski was announced as President Obama’s nominee
to head the Federal Communications Commission as Chairman.
The first piece of business Genachowski was supposed to deal with
when he stepped into the FCC was the digital
television conversion. But his confirmation was
delayed until June, and by then the
switch had already occurred.
June 16 Genachowski sailed through his confirmation hearing in the
Senate Commerce. Science and Transportation Committee, won unanimous
confirmation by the whole Senate on the 25th, and took the oath of
office June 29 for a 5-year term.
Obama had an old friend who had managed his hi-tech online presidential
campaign now running the FCC – with intimate knowledge of the campaign’s
activist Internet responders and email list. If used by a grassroots
expert, that information was powerful enough to generate pressure on the
agency to do whatever the president wanted.
In May 2010, Genachowski released a
proposal to overhaul the FCC’s ability to regulate broadband Internet.
Genachowski’s plan is to redefine Internet providers under the category
of “telecommunication services,” and enforce six rules that currently
apply to phone companies.
The new, “third-way” plan is in response to a federal
court ruling that limited the FCC’s ability to regulate the Internet.
The new classification is an attempt to regain that
DIVERSITY CZAR FLAP
Obama campaign’s activist Internet responders and email list
into use as a policy tool, Genachowski
created the position of Media Diversity Officer in
the FCC. It was
supposedly in response to the Obama stimulus bill passed in
February 2009. Congress
appropriated $7.2 billion for increased broadband coverage
throughout the U.S., which included expanding use in rural and
low-income areas often populated by minorities. But
there was nothing in the bill that suggested the creation of an FCC
However, such an office was essential to Genachowski's larger strategic
goals, even though he had to combine the
Media Diversity Officer job with an Associate Counsel
position in order to fit into the existing bureaucracy.
That meant finding a sharp attorney who shared the Obama
administration's leftward beliefs. The natural choice to fill the
combined posts was Mark Lloyd, a lawyer with deep media experience, whom
Podesta had employed (2004-2008) as a Senior Fellow
on communications issues in his Center for American Progress.
See Mark Lloyd's
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