Obama’s Old Boss

An FCC blast from the past

I was catching up with The New York Times last night, when late in a profile of Michelle Obama I came across this anecdote:

Martha L. Minow, a professor at Harvard Law School, did work with Mrs. Obama for a nonprofit educational group in Chicago. Dr. Minow’s father, Newton N. Minow, is senior counsel at Sidley Austin, the law firm where the Obamas met. Dr. Minow said she remembered hearing about the day Mr. Obama announced to her father that he would be leaving the firm to pursue public service.

“My dad was very supportive,” she said. “Then he said, ‘One more thing, I’m going to take Michelle with me.’ ”

Yes, that’s the same Newt Minow who, in 1961, in his first public address as chair of the Federal Communications Commission, told an audience full of TV executives that they were violating the public trust by serving up a “vast wasteland” of television programming and debasing democracy with a slavish devotion to ratings.

Small world.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.