Trump Whines About AT&T, Ignores His FCC Has Spent Two Years Kissing The Company's Ass

from the ill-communication dept

While there are countless news outlets that justifiably criticize the President, Trump has long been particularly fixated on CNN. So fixated, in fact, that it's believed this disdain for the network (in addition to Rupert Murdoch's competitive desires) played a starring role in his DOJ's bungled effort to try and block AT&T's $86 billion merger with CNN parent company Time Warner.

This week, Trump doubled down once again, proclaiming that the public should stop using AT&T services as punishment for CNN's criticism of the President:

The tirade resulted in a fairly feeble effort to get the #DumpATT hashtag trending on Twitter, and some consternation and furrowed brows among journalists who took the rambling Tweet a bit too seriously.

The irony here, at least if you're an adult who has actually paid attention to this administration's policies, is that AT&T has received a near-endless list of favors from Trump's administration, many of which it's not entirely clear that Trump is even aware of. In fact, AT&T has probably received more regulatory handouts from this administration than any other administration in American history. Which, if you tracked the favors doled out by Bush-era FCC boss Michael Powell (now the top lobbyist for the cable industry), that's saying something.

AT&T was a massive beneficiary of the Trump tax cuts, now saving $3 billion annually in perpetuity. According to AT&T, that money was supposed to go back into the company's network and employees, but instead resulted widespread layoffs. Trump's FCC also gave AT&T a massive regulatory handout when it helped kill broadband privacy protections, killed net neutrality rules with popular bipartisan support, and voluntarily eroded its own authority over ISPs like AT&T at lobbyist behest. Trump's FCC has also routinely turned a blind eye to AT&T scandals like its failure to police location data sales.

There's countless other favors AT&T has gleaned from the Trump administration as well, whether it's the FCC decision to weaken the very definition of broadband competition or the killing of plans to bring more competition to the cable box. The Trump administration fealty to AT&T is so severe, we're at the point that when reporters contact Trump's FCC for information, they've occasionally been directed to US Telecom, a lobbyist organization spearheaded by... AT&T.

People tend to look at the Trump DOJ's decision to sue to thwart the Time Warner merger (which again had more to do with helping Rupert Murdoch and hurting CNN than any disdain for AT&T) as a sign of Trump's "opposition" to AT&T, but you'd be pretty hard pressed to find a company that's done as well under Trump as CNN's new parent company. That quickly forgotten $600,000 AT&T's lobbyists paid now-imprisoned Trump lawyer Michael Cohen for broader access to the administration seems to have been money well spent.

The entire fracas once again highlights how Trump's Twitter tirades are only tangentially related to reality, and very rarely tethered to his administration's actual policies. In fact, based on his comments on net neutrality, it's not really clear the President of the United States has the foggiest understanding of what his own FCC is doing. If Trump really wanted to hurt AT&T and CNN, a good first step would probably be to stop kissing the Dallas-based telecom giant's massive, monopolized ass.

Filed Under: antitrust, doj, donald trump, fcc, oversight, regulations, subsidies, telcos
Companies: at&t


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  • icon
    Gary (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 11:32am

    Classy

    Sure is classy for the sitting president to tell people to shut down any news critical of him like that isn't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 12:45pm

      Classy? No. Fascistic? Definitely. He’s taking lessons from Erdoğan.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 1:04pm

      Re: Classy

      How is this even legal? For a sitting president to say such things is just nuts if not criminal. AT&T blows goats but I hope they sue the crap out of Trump and win.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 1:14pm

        Re: Re: Classy

        Why wouldn't it be legal? It would be illegal for him to have the government single out a company, but as Karl writes, "Trump's Twitter tirades are only tangentially related to reality, and very rarely tethered to his actual policies".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 3:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: Classy

          However tangentially they're related to his policies, having the sitting president of the US call for a boycott on any company based on outright lies is still a government action. He's the president 24/7, not just when signing papers in the oval office. In addition to probable libel there has got to be some kind of law against this activity.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 4:26pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Classy

            having the sitting president of the US call for a boycott ... is still a government action.

            Except that trump never directly called for a boycott. Trump opined: "I believe that if people stoped using or subscribing to @ATT, they would be forced to make big changes at @CNN" --- which is a few steps short of saying "As president, I'm officially calling for a boycott of AT&T."

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              That One Guy (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 6:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Classy

              Oh absolutely, just like the nice gentlemen that talk about how 'dangerous' fires are, how it would be a 'real shame' were something to happen to the store they're in and how if the store owner would just pay 'proper respect to the 'respected businessman' said businessman would strive to ensure things like that didn't happen aren't engaged in a protection racket, they're just offering some friendly advice.

              Did he explicitly call for a boycott? No. Is his statement pretty clearly in that direction? Very much so.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 12:39am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Classy

              You're right, he was too dumb to spell a basic word like "stopped" correctly, so on the face of it he just spouted nonsense rather than an abuse of power.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 5:19am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Classy

              won't someone rid me of this meddlesome priest

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 5 Jun 2019 @ 12:09pm

    typo

    "resulted widespread layoffs."

    Probably needs an "in" in there.

    E

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 12:31pm

    I was going to use this as my (cord cutting) excuse when I call to cancel DirecTV next month. "Well, the president said I should..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Baron von Robber, 5 Jun 2019 @ 12:43pm

    Trump ignores nothing.........except reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 12:50pm

    Should it surprise us that Trump's repeated campaign promise to "Drain The Swamp" turned out to be nothing more than a repeat of Obama's failed "Change the Way Washington Works" promise?

    Did many supporters of either Trump or Obama really believe that cleaning up the deeply entrenched corruption in Washington was even remotely possible?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2019 @ 5:56pm

    You see, Richard Bennett? This is what happens when you don't let them use the spiky strapon without lube.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 12:12am

    "Trump Whines..."

    Close call with that title...I ALMOST didn't read any further.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 12:37am

    He was throwing a temper tantrum because he couldn't get Faux News in the UK, was exposed to a non-propaganda station (CNN International being very different to the CNN you get in the US, by the way) and also couldn't conceive of any of the many news outlets actually made in the UK. He's a scared child who poked his head out of his bubble and was exposed to people who thought differently. Don't expect such a reaction to contain factual information.

    It's also worth noting that the reason Fox is not available in the UK is because the parent company pulled it after it failed miserably to gain an audience. That's the free market in action, orange one.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 10:17am

      Re:

      I thought Fox News was taken off the air in the UK because the government (rightly) saw it as opinion-based when it tried to claim it was unbiased news.

      And while Trump was in the UK, did he watch any news from BBC or Al-Jazeera (the horror- a Middle East news station!)? I'd bet he'd be more than shocked to see how those stations reported the news.
      Though this assumed Trump's parents, I mean handlers, allowed him to watch these station. After all, these are the same handlers who told the navy to move the USS John McCain in case the name offended Trump.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 12:35pm

        What surprises me further...

        ...is Trump could get FOX or anything else streamed or satellited to wherever he is in the world, including london, and the White House couldn't get it for him.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 1:08am

          Re: What surprises me further...

          He probably just whined that it wasn't available when he clicked the remote, then started raging when he spotted CNN. Whichever staffer was sent to set it up had most likely not got out of the room before he started raging about it on Twitter.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 12:50am

        Re: Re:

        "I thought Fox News was taken off the air in the UK because the government (rightly) saw it as opinion-based when it tried to claim it was unbiased news."

        You thought wrong.

        "On August 29, 2017, Sky dropped Fox News; the broadcaster said its carriage was not "commercially viable" due to average viewership of fewer than 2,000 viewers per day."

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fox_News#United_Kingdom

        Oh, they certainly were in danger of violating regulations if they went anywhere near the amount of stuff they pull in the US, and I do believe there were already lawsuits against them. But, the reason they failed is because nobody wanted to watch it.

        "And while Trump was in the UK, did he watch any news from BBC or Al-Jazeera (the horror- a Middle East news station!)?"

        I don't believe so, although all I have to go on are his tweets where he first whined about not having Fox, then went on a tirade against CNN directly afterwards. I don't know if he even tried watching Sky News (the local Murdoch-owned outlet), let alone something that's actually impartial.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    beau Hawkins, 6 Jun 2019 @ 1:01am

    great article

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2019 @ 9:55am

    smooch

    more stupificious puckerization...nothing to see here people...move along

    Until we have outlawed bribery (lobbying) -and/or- we have Congressional Term Limits, I'll treat politics like I treat UFO's:
    I Don't Believe

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Jun 2019 @ 12:33pm

      Not believing.

      I hypothesize the sooner the public realizes that our alleged democratic rule (by the people, for the people) is a fiction, that we live in a neofeudal oligarchy, the sooner we might endeavor to change that.

      I also hypothesize the sooner that the public realizes our rule of law is bullshit; that our system uses overreaching laws and selective enforcement to funnel marginalized peoples into our expansive jail system; that police murder with impunity; and enemies of officials are disappeared with little question or oversight, that we might endeavor to change that too.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Wendy Cockcroft (profile), 7 Jun 2019 @ 5:13am

        Re: Not believing.

        Effecting such a change requires that people get politically engaged, but when campaign fatigue sets in easily if "da peeple" don't get their way at once, good luck with that.

        This is why we keep getting advocates for violent revolution popping up in the comments. They want a quick fix, but as Chip keeps pointing out, we're not willing to band together and work together to make that happen.

        If, in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, in the democracy of the free, the organised are in control.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dickeyrat, 6 Jun 2019 @ 3:52pm

    No Good Guys

    First let me assure you I am no fan of AT&T. I have previously posted here about my own experience with AT&T, and the simple, effective & eternal way I told them to fuck off. I am sorry to see they now own CNN, for which I have had a somewhat healthy respect for nearly forty years. But what's "sad" nowadays is the United States of America, for having placed this orange assclown in its Uber-ruling position. Yes, the country IS stupid enough to actually elect Thump for a second term. But if the numbers don't hold up for him, he will then retain his Emperor-ship by force--with the full support of his one-hundred million drooling, knuckle-dragging, wife-beating, booger-snarfing, ass-scratching worshipers, who respect and love their very own Dictator de la Republica Banana. And roughly ten years from now, watch for concentration camps that empty regularly into sit-down ovens. That's the Amerika this vast constituency wants, and will ultimately get. Our problems are much, much larger than CNN.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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