Helped with an offstage version of Apple's iPhone voice assistant Siri, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made fun of his handling of the AT&T-T-Mobile merger, the final end of the Fairness Doctrine and the Universal Services Fund on Thursday night.
Genachowski knew he was expected to draw laughs at the "telecom prom", the annual Federal Communications Bar Association dinner, but he got in some serious moments with a farewell to FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who finishes his tenure at the agency this month, and a tribute to Apple founder Steve Jobs who died this year.
"You know I can't talk to anyone" about the AT&T merger, Genachowski told "Siri" in one bit. "That's not what [AT&T CEO] Randall Stephenson's phone records say," "Siri" answered.
Siri stole most of the edgy lines, claiming that the chairman takes her for granted. "Christine Varney is not the only one who does your dirty work," she said, referring to the Justice Department's top antitrust official who stepped down earlier this year. Varney and Genachowski coordinated on the Comcast merger with NBC Universal, approving it conditionally, and on the AT&T merger with T-Mobile. Varney left before DOJ sued to block the AT&T merger.
Genachowski lamented conservative claims that he's over-regulatory, noting he deleted language on the Fairness Doctrine from the rule books. The Fairness Doctrine created a balance requirement for broadcast news and though it has not been enforced for years, it remained in writing.
"Immediately, talk radio hosts accused me of deleting the Fairness Doctrine in order to secretly bring back the Fairness Doctrine," Genachowski said. "It's a strange job."
He tweaked his own claim that reforming the Universal Service Fund and payments between phone companies will create 500,000 jobs, saying those are all lawyers.
The biggest laugh came when Siri mentioned a disorganized mass of people who can't articulate anything, and Genachowsk took it as a criticism of Occupy Wallstreet.
"No, Free Press," the assistant said.
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