Netflix CEO bundles money for Obama, Netflix gets net neutrality, Obamas get huge contract

I was surprised yesterday when I read that the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, was a bundler for the 2012 Obama campaign, because with the media's deep interest in political corruption, equality, and especially income equality, I would think such political connections would be widely reported.

From April 2012's Hollywood Reporter:

Billionaire mogul Haim Saban threw open his arms as he arrived to meet first lady Michelle Obama at the Beverly Hills home of Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos and his wife of 2½ years, Nicole Avant, the newly returned U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas.

"I'm here!" Saban announced to all within earshot of the no-press-allowed crowd of 135 – a who's who of Hollywood political power players, including Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steve Bing, Harvey Weinstein and Mike and Irena Medavoy; Sarandos' boss, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings; and Quincy Jones, Avant's godfather.

Now this, from RedState:

Ex-President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle just signed a deal with Netflix to "produce television shows and films for the streaming service."  It could be worth as much as $50 million.

Which makes perfect business sense for Netflix – given the Obamas' extensive experience in story development, screenwriting, direction and production.

I kid.  I'm a kidder.

The Obamas, of course, have zero history in the filmmaking business.  The chances of them falling backwards into content production success are...just about non-existent.

When examined through a political prism – rather than a business one – this move makes perfect sense.  For the Obamas – and Netflix.

It is the culmination of a decade's worth of DC cronyism – come round full circle: "Ted ... Sarandos and his wife, Nicole Avant, bundled nearly $600,000 in contributions to Obama from their friends and associates during the 2012 presidential campaign."

And who is Ted Sarandos?: "(Netflix)'s creative content chief who oversees an $8 billion budget (and who) helped to broker the deal ..."

Aha.  I see.

And what of Sarandos' matrimonial co-bundler?: "Avant served as US ambassador to the Bahamas from 2009 to 2011, during the president's first term. Her father, Clarence, a music exec, bundled a total of nearly $450,000 for Obama's presidential campaigns."

Well isn't all of this nice and cozy.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers treat all data on the internet the same and don't discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.

Obama supported net neutrality in 2014, and as with other bureaucracies, the FCC did what Obama wanted in 2015.  Net neutrality was sold as helping the little guy, but the companies it helped most were wealthy big bandwidth-users.  The biggest bandwidth-user of all is Netflix.

The internet has worked well for decades without net neutrality, and somehow Obama and his FCC didn't push it through until well into his second term, after the Netflix CEO had donated large amounts to Obama and lobbied heavily for it.

Competition would have kept Netflix and others from raising their prices too high on the little guy if they actually had to pay for the large amount of infrastructure they require.

According to Business Insider:

Netflix is the biggest bandwidth hog of the bunch, making up more than 37% of all downstream traffic during peak hours.  Google's YouTube is a distant second, with about 18%.  All non-video web services combined (HTTP) take up only 6% of all downstream bandwidth.

So now here is a summary of the Netflix-Obama relationship:

  • Netflix CEO raises large amounts of money for Obama in 2012 campaign; Netflix lobbies and gets net neutrality; and then, around 16 months after Obama leaves office, the Obamas get a contract worth $50 million even though they have no experience providing content.
  • Since Obama, Netflix, and others are so interested in equality, I am sure they will be glad to list all other similar contracts to the Obama's with other men, women, blacks, Hispanics, LGBTQ members, and others.  They should highlight the contracts with other people with no experience.
  • It should be especially degrading to other producers and developers of content who have gone through school, worked their way up, and plied their trade their entire lives to get small contracts that all the Obamas had to do was use the husband's powerful government-paid position to push through a regulation to get rewarded so handsomely.

I have to hand it to the Obamas.  They didn't set up a fake charity like the Clintons to take the kickbacks or have to give hundreds of speeches to greatly enrich themselves.  They just signed a contract and took the money directly.

Reed Hastings, by the way, was not the first bundler Obama rewarded.  Solyndra comes to mind, and there were many more.

Telecom executive Donald H. Gips raised a big bundle of cash to help finance his friend Barack Obama's run for the presidency.

Gips, a vice president of Colorado-based Level 3 Communications LLC, delivered more than $500,000 in contributions for the Obama war chest, while two fellow senior company executives collected at least $150,000 more.

After the election, Gips was put in charge of hiring in the Obama White House, helping to place loyalists and fundraisers in many key positions.  Then in mid-2009, the new president named him ambassador to South Africa.  Level 3 Communications, in which Gips retained stock, meanwhile received millions of dollars of government stimulus contracts for broadband projects in six states – though Gips said he was "completely unaware" of the stimulus money.

The media have shown a general lack of interest in all the political favors, the corruption, and the money that changes hands around the Clintons and Obamas.  They have done a tremendous amount of work on pretend corruption, where President Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen, got paid mere hundreds of thousands by AT&T, Novartis, and others for insight into Trump, for what appears to be nothing in return.

In my lifetime, I have never seen as many scandals, as many political favors, and as much corruption as I have surrounding the Clinton and Obama administration – and as little interest by the media.

That in itself is a great danger to our democracy and freedom, but the greater danger is when the media and Justice Department look the other way and support them and exonerate them, no matter how many crimes they commit.