Mitt Romney’s conflict of interest

While Mitt Romney is no longer the CEO of Bain Capital LLC, he is reportedly still a silent partner in the firm. Comes word now that Bain is buying into Clear Channel, the largest radio broadcasting group in the country.

The deal, which is worth about $26.7 billion, would make Bain a partner in over 1,100 full-power AM, FM, and shortwave stations in the U.S., as well as co-owner of a syndication group that produces talk shows by Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, George Noory (Coast to Coast AM), and many others. Other top syndicated hosts like Sean Hannity, Michael Savage, and Laura Ingraham are broadcast on Clear Channel stations.

Can you just imagine the howls of rage from the aforementioned hosts if one of the Democratic candidates was about to buy into America’s largest broadcast group?

While Bain may not exercise any editorial control over Clear Channel’s programming, Romney ought to divest himself of the company he started. In fact, the FCC ought to give this purchase a good hard look. Concentration of media influence over America’s political process in a few hands is why ownership groups weren’t allowed to hold more than 14 radio stations (7 AM, 7 FM, and not more than one of each in a market) until about 20 years ago.

We ought to go back to those limits. Freedom is threatened when the media is controlled by a small clique of elites with close ties to the government.

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