He has been like that since as early as college, friends say. At Swarthmore College, the ambitious junior produced a 300-page report after surveying 200 students about their top concerns. He was chief aide to Bradley, the newly elected student body vice president. And he wanted his boss to look good.
“At age 21, I had never seen anything like it. Now, age 59, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Bradley said. “The sheer scale of effort and mastery were remarkable.”
Cohen brought his binders to merger negotiations at the FCC, a place that runs on thick policy papers. He would rattle off data on online video traffic, city-level cable subscriber numbers and the rankings of local television stations.
“Every meeting with David is incredibly substantive,” said Eddie Lazarus, former chief of staff to the FCC. “He always comes with a willingness to find solutions.”
One of those solutions was to offer the low-income Internet service just when Comcast wanted to buy NBC Universal.
The initiative may not have sealed the FCC’s decision to approve the NBC merger. But it helped, Cohen said.
The proposal clearly captured the fancy of regulators. Late last month, Genachowski, the FCC chairman, touted the program, seemingly claiming some credit for its creation.
“This particular program came from our reviewing of the Comcast NBC-U transaction,” Genachowski said in a speech. “Comcast embraced it as good for the country, as well as good for business. And I’m fine with that.”
It’s a fuzzy detail Cohen is happy to overlook.