With the ability to pull from glitzy NBC resources, Cohen plays host to glamorous Washington events and is a leader in several powerful trade associations, including the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Motion Picture Association of America.
This summer, he co-hosted a party for the Olympics’ Opening Ceremonies with the British ambassador, clinking champagne glasses at the embassy in front of hundreds of government officials and lobbyists.
“David takes an eternity and a half to leave the ballroom,” said David Bradley, head of Atlantic Media and a longtime college friend.
Those connections have added to Cohen’s powerful circle of friends among top Democratic leaders.
In June 2011, Cohen and his wife, Rhonda, hosted a campaign fundraiser for President Obama at their sprawling Philadelphia home, raising an estimated $1.2 million. Amid 120 high-paying donors, Obama thanked the Cohens, whom he called “great friends.” The Cohens have contributed $877,000 of their own money to various political campaigns in the past decade. Comcast as a company has doled out $3.3 million this year to congressional campaigns, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
There are even rumors that Cohen could be tapped for a top White House role if Obama is reelected. But he is coy when asked whether he is interested in reentering politics.
“Sorta, no,” Cohen said. “I have the best corporate job in the world, one that combines everything I love about business and government. ”
That may be a recognition of his limited fame, which does not register outside Washington.
Last month in the District, Cohen spoke in front of an auditorium of Kramer Middle School students (and television cameras) about the program to provide Internet service to low-income Americans. He pointed to oversize props of bar charts and maps of Internet-connected homes in the city.
“Broadband is the civil rights issue of our time,” he said.
Most students were politely quiet. Some yawned, while others were led away by school staff members for being disruptive.
Then Cohen changed the mood by introducing Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D), who lauded his “friend” Cohen and Comcast’s service in the city.
The students awakened, jumped to their feet and cheered for Gray.
Behind closed doors, the fastidious Cohen commands the room. His ammunition comes from those same charts, statistics, studies and talking points.