AT&T Hopes You'll Ignore It Routinely Finances Terrible Politicians Doing Terrible Things
from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept
After the idiotic and dangerous events of January 6, you might recall how corporations like AT&T and Comcast proclaimed they’d paused donations to any politicians behind the clumsy, violent attempt to, you know, dismantle functioning democracy. But, of course, this was mostly a show; the companies continued to donate money to those same politicians via their lobbying and policy umbrella orgs. Then, once the public was adequately distracted by the next big scandal du jour, quickly got back to work funding those same politicians again with zero meaningful penalty.
Now AT&T’s making headlines once again, this time for funding the politicians behind Texas’ terrible anti-abortion law. In addition to the way the law will harm women (particularly low income women and women of color), we’ve noted the law is an inherent mess that encourages vigilantism, likely opening the door to all kinds of additional problems in numerous other policy sectors. That’s before you get to the problems with the Supreme Court’s chickenshit middle of the night ruling that appears to ignore the very foundations of the law itself.
AT&T being AT&T, the company has been busy pushing all kinds of marketing missives about its breathless support for women, while simultaneously throwing giant wads of cash at politicians for whom that hasn’t been much of a priority. The press hasn’t been too bothered by this, leaving it to independent newsletter writers like Judd Legum to call AT&T out:
1. @ATT donated 300K to the sponsors of Texas' abortion ban
2. @ATT refuses to comment on the ban or its donations
3. @ATT is running ads on Twitter casting itself as a champion of women
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) September 9, 2021
Whenever this sort of thing happens, AT&T attempts to turtle its way through it, usually by refusing to comment and hoping the scandal passes overhead. But to his credit, HBO’s John Oliver this week wasn’t having it, and managed to squeeze at least a comment out of his parent company (technically his soon to be ex-parent company thanks to the looming Discovery spinoff). After being prodded by Oliver, this is what AT&T came up with after weeks of total radio silence:
“AT&T has never taken a stance on abortion. Employee PAC contributions to Texas legislators went to both supporters and opponents of the Texas legislation.”
As Oliver was quick to point out, not taking a stance on this immeasurably shitty law is taking a stance (oh hey Elon didn’t see you standing there), especially if you’re still happily funding the politicians behind it:
“Not taking a stance on this issue right now is taking a stance,? Oliver said. ?And both-siding abortion isn?t really the PR slam dunk that that they seem to think it is. Although it is certainly on brand for them. AT&T clearly likes their public statements the same way that they like their cell signal ? hilariously f-cking weak.”
You can find the full segment here:
?JOHN OLIVER to @ATT: ?NOT taking a stance on this issue right now? IS taking a stance.?
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) September 13, 2021
On one hand it’s a great thing that an independent newsletter and a satirist are holding a corporation to account for funding terrible people pushing terrible, harmful legislation. On the flip side it’s a testament to the timidity of the mainstream press that this sort of stuff routinely has to fall to independent newsletters and a satirist in the first place. Corporations routinely get to talk out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to supporting terrible politicians and terrible policies, and the fact AT&T was able to remain totally quiet for a month without much media scrutiny makes it abundantly clear why.