Everything about Michael J. Copps screams bureaucrat — until he opens his mouth.
Copps, a Democrat whose crusade against media consolidation has helped make him Hollywood’s public-policy enemy No. 1, is more proselytizer than pencil pusher.
The public airwaves, he says, are filled with “too much baloney passed off as news.” The Republican-led FCC is so lax that “unless you’re a child abuser or a wife beater, it’s a slam-dunk” to renew a TV station license. “Our country is paying a dreadful cost for this quarter-century fling with government abdication and media irresponsibility,” he said this year.
Copps’ ability to distill the complexities of media ownership into plain English and fire up crowds like a revivalist preacher helped derail an industry push in 2003 to loosen restrictions on owning broadcast stations.
Now, as the FCC prepares to tackle the volatile issue again, with Chairman Kevin J. Martin proposing a vote on new rules by the end of the year, the 67-year-old former history professor is reemerging as a hero to the firebrands fighting media consolidation.