The TikTok 'Deal' Was A Grift From The Start: Accomplishes None Of The Stated Goals; Just Helps Trump & Friends

from the a-joke dept

A week ago, we explained that the announced "deal" between Oracle and TikTok was a complete joke and what appeared to be a grift to let Trump claim he had done something, while really just handing a big contract to one of his biggest supporters. That was based on the preliminary details. As more details came out, it became even clearer that the whole thing was a joke. TikTok's investors actively recruited Oracle because they knew they needed to find a company that "Trump liked."

Over the weekend, Trump officially gave the "okay" on the Oracle deal (which now also involves Walmart). And before we get into the details of the deal and why it's a total grift, I'd like to just step back and highlight:

It is positively insane, Banana Republic, kleptocratic nonsense that any business deal should hinge on whether the President himself gives it a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Do not let all the insanity of this current administration hide this fact. If this had happened during the Obama administration, how crazy do you think Hannity/Carlson/Breitbart/etc. would be going right now about "big government" and claiming that the President is corrupt beyond belief? We should never, ever be in a situation where any President is giving the personal thumbs up or thumbs down to a business deal (and that's leaving out the fact that he forced this business deal in the first place with a blatantly unconstitutional executive order.

Okay, now back to the actual deal. Oracle and Walmart will team up to create a "new" (very much in quotes) company called TikTok Global that will be headquartered in the US. Of course, this is a joke. TikTok already has US operations. Oracle and Walmart will end up with a small equity stake in this "new" company (combined about 20%), but the Chinese company ByteDance will still own the majority of the company and will still control the TikTok algorithm. While there is some chatter about how the data will be hosted in the US, for the most part that was already true. Oracle says that it will review things to make sure that the data is secure, but remember, this is the same Oracle that collects a shit ton of data on internet users via Blue Kai, and then leaked it all. It's also the same Oracle that works closely with US spy agencies and isn't exactly known as being particularly good at security.

As the NY Times notes, this deal appears to accomplish literally nothing. As we said before, it was all performative, letting Trump claim he had "done something," when the rationale for the deal ("national security") was always bogus, and this is proved by the fact that nothing in the new setup changes whatever national security questions there were about the app before. So, rather than force ByteDance to "sell" the company to protect "US national security" as the NY Times rightly notes all that came out of this was:

A cloud computing contract for the Silicon Valley business software company Oracle, a merchandising deal for Walmart and a claim of victory for President Trump.

As former FCC chair Tom Wheeler tells the NY Times:

Vetting deals “is normally a process that involves multiple thoughtful people coming to the issue from multiple different concerns,” said Tom Wheeler, a former Democratic chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. “This appears as though what passes for process is what pleases one man: Donald J. Trump.”

Again, Banana Republic kleptocracy.

The NY Times also noted that Walmart either seemed to rush out its press release over the deal, or whoever wrote it had a heart attack in the process of composing it:

“This unique technology eliminates the risk of foreign governments spying on American users or trying to influence them with disinformation,” the company said. “Ekejechb ecehggedkrrnikldebgtkjkddhfdenbhbkuk.”

And that's not even getting into the whole issue of the mysterious $5 billion education fund. With the announcement, Oracle and Walmart said the new company would "pay $5 billion in new taxes to the Treasury," and then separately that it would "develop an educational curriculum driven by artificial intelligence to teach children basic reading, history and other subjects." Those two points got conflated to suggest that it was putting $5 billion into that project -- which sounded suspiciously like the finder's fee Trump demanded when first talking about forcing TikTok to be sold.

This got even more insane when Trump declared that he wanted the $5 billion to be used for his new 1776 history project, which is his new fascistic indoctrination education program, which Trump and his idiot followers insist is necessary because they falsely believe that kids are being indoctrinated to hate America (they're not -- they're just finally being taught, at least a little bit, that slavery is a key part of American history).

And the story got even more crazy when, after Trump talked about all of this, ByteDance came out with a giant shrug, saying it was totally unaware of any $5 billion education fund and appeared to have no interest in actually doing that.

It seems that most of the confusion was -- as per usual -- on the part of our not very intelligent President, who couldn't comprehend that the small education fund was different than the $5 billion, which is merely just estimate future tax revenues to the Treasury that, given the tax breaks this same President has helped set up, will probably never actually materialize.

It's like a clusterfuck of stupidity, corruption and kleptocracy. It's America in 2020.

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Filed Under: banana republic, china, donald trump, grift, ieepa, kleptocracy, larry ellison, nonsense
Companies: bytedance, oracle, tiktok, walmart


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 9:06am

    PR stunt for the gullible fools, free money for the corrupt

    I am shocked, shocked I say, to find corruption in this fine administration!

    While I'm disgusted by the open corruption and rampant hypocrisy on display sadly I can't say that I am at all surprised, as those two traits basically define Trump's GOP, to the point that these days it's only a surprise when they aren't openly corrupt and/or lying even for a moment.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:05am

      Re: PR stunt for the gullible fools, free money for the corrupt

      Many conservatives have wanted to rewrite history for some time now. What's next ... will they write their own bible?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:16am

        Re: Re: PR stunt for the gullible fools, free money for the corr

        Judging by the teachings of the bible they constantly ignore whenever it's convenient for them, I'd argue they aleady did.

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

        • identicon
          Rocky, 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:53am

          Re: Re: Re: PR stunt for the gullible fools, free money for the

          Most "vocal" people who uses the bible to point at others that they will burn in hell or any other type of condemnation because "something something says so in the bible" are all hypocrites of the worst kind since if they would actually live according to everything that's in the bible they couldn't function in a modern society.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:28am

        Re: Re: PR stunt for the gullible fools, free money for the corr

        Depending on the state that someone lives in it's not 'wanted to' but 'can and have', such that Trump's push to rewrite history is disturbingly enough 'only' turning a local phenomenon into a country-wide one.

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

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:02am

    Anyone who didn’t think this was a grift hasn’t been paying attention. Republicans are all grifters; what differs is the degree to which they grift their gullible voter base.

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

    • icon
      John85851 (profile), 24 Sep 2020 @ 11:11am

      Re:

      I've come to realize that all Republicans are evil and they come in two flavors:
      1) Very evil: those that kiss Trump's butt and actively encourage corruption and fascism, like Mitch McConnell.
      2) Simply evil: those that go along with the corruption but don't speak out because the political party is more important than morals.

      It's very telling that none of the "mainstream media" (for lack of a better word) ever talks about how Republican members in the Senate or House condemn what Trump is doing. Nope- they're more interested in making sure Republicans/ Trump's base votes for them in the next election.

      What's the old expression, "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing".
      So we have an entire political party of good men and women who are doing nothing.

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

  • identicon
    David, 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:12am

    Democracy is on probation

    It's like a clusterfuck of stupidity, corruption and kleptocracy. It's America in 2020.

    The voters have one chance to prove that having the general free media informed populace as the ultimate check and balance works as the basis of Western democratic structures.

    One.

    If they choose not to fix it, they demonstrate that the system is worse than communism (well, communism as such has not been tried, but what calls itself communism).

    Other checks and balances, like Congress and independent Judiciary and Inspector Generals have demonstrated that they are not good enough against a determined party-supported crook.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 12:25am

      Re: Democracy is on probation

      False assumption;

      "The voters have one chance to prove that having the general free media informed populace as the ultimate check and balance works as the basis of Western democratic structures."

      How come this fails to work only in the US and on the EU level then? Most european nations with similar structures managed to do a hell of a lot better in comparison?

      My personal theory is that the issue is with having a structure which embeds a democratic deficit. The US college of electors and first-past-the-post election system and the EU's bloody commission/bureaucracy shit sandwich of unaccountability is what allows power brokers to shit all over the will of the citizenry.

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

  • identicon
    kallethen, 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:14am

    “Ekejechb ecehggedkrrnikldebgtkjkddhfdenbhbkuk.”

    I have to admit, the person writing Walmart's press release sure did sum up my thoughts on this whole debacle.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 12:34am

      Re:

      Given that Larry friggin Ellison is involved on the other side of this deal I'm at least halfway convinced the translation reads "Resistance is futile, all your base are belong to us!".

      Illuminati conspiracies aside I, for one, find the conglomeration of actors here very implausible. Oracle and Walmart coming together over buying a small part of a chinese chat app with one of the shadiest estate brokers in the US abusing his public office to play matchmaker while throwing around the words "5 billion USD" as if it was petty cash?

      It's pretty damn clear this is one giant back-scratching session with Trump hosting his new reality TV drama "How to cronyism".

      They aren't even hiding it.

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

  • icon
    crade (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:17am

    "Oracle and Walmart will team up"
    What they couldn't get E.A. and Equifax?

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:25am

    "It is positively insane, Banana Republic, kleptocratic nonsense that any business deal should hinge on whether the President himself gives it a thumbs up or a thumbs down."

    Obamacare... smh.

    The hypocrisy of left wingers is amusing.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:33am

      The Affordable Care Act was not a business deal, but a law. Show me what law is being written with this deal and maybe you’ll have a point. Until then: GFY.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2020 @ 11:24am

      Re:

      Obamacare... smh.

      Well, stop shaking that empty head of yours. Obamacare was passed by Congress.

      As opposed to my sooper dooper, heavy-duty, bigly very bestest ever Trumpcare, that I'm still waiting for because it's so much worse than Obamacare, even his own party voted against it initially, and he hasn't cared enough to do anything since that bitchslap.

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

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 11:44am

      Re:

      The hypocrisy of left wingers is amusing.

      1. Not "left wing."
      2. Didn't support Obamacare and still think it's bad policy.
      3. That was at least a law passed by Congress.
      4. What?
      5. Fuck off.

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

      • icon
        kag (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 9:13am

        Re: Re:

        1. There certainly is a left wing slant.
        2. Solyndra and the Restructuring of GM are examples. Solyndra is clearly graft bilking taxpayers out of millions, and the restructuring of Gm was unconstitutional bypassing bankruptcy court and picking winners and losers.
        3. Its crazy to believe that this nation was founded on slavery and became successful because of it. Its success was built on the preservation of private property, which was unusual at the time for all citizens.

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

        • icon
          bhull242 (profile), 28 Sep 2020 @ 2:55pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          1. No, there isn’t. What evidence do you have that there is?

          2. That’s a separate example that I believe Mike also disagreed with. He has been quite critical of many of Obama’s policies. Are you new to this site? Also, that wasn’t a business deal either, or interference in one.

          3. No one I know of says that this nation was successful because of slavery, though I will point out that slaves were considered “private property”.

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

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 28 Sep 2020 @ 11:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "No, there isn’t. What evidence do you have that there is?"

            Those pesky facts and verifiable evidence so often seem to skew against the right-wing echo chamber's version of things?

            "Also, that wasn’t a business deal either, or interference in one."

            Solyndra's one of the echo chamber's obsessions, but they always seem to stop reading the story after the point where the program involved actually returned a profit for the government in the long run. You can argue whether pumping money into a company that didn't use it wisely was a good idea, but even with hindsight it was a successful move, unless you're fundamentally opposed to the sector of renewable energy.

            https://www.npr.org/2014/11/13/363572151/after-solyndra-loss-u-s-energy-loan-program-turning -a-profit

            GM is slightly more complicated, as although it did save GM and provide a boost to the industry after it nearly failed, taxpayers lost money on the deal while private investors profited. But, GM was only part of a range of bailouts, and the taxpayer seems to have got a return on that whole scheme at this point, even if the whole "socialise the losses, privatise the rewards" system of US business seems alive and well.

            There is an argument here against the way such bailouts are handled, but these are usually muddied by people who believe that the magical unregulated free market will take care of everything, without recognising that it's often the thing that caused the problem in the first place.

            "though I will point out that slaves were considered “private property”."

            Yeah, that's hilarious in terms of his argument, isn't it?

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

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 11:47am

      Re:

      "Obamacare... smh."

      I'm sorry that the nickname given to the Republican-originated plan that was passed as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is causing your brain so many problems. The funny thing is, when you ask people about the act without that silly nickname, most Americans support it.

      Here's hoping that the next time you get the possibility of healthcare reform you get what the Democrats originally wanted, rather than a watered down version of Romney's plan that was still voted against by people who put their votes above your health.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2020 @ 2:22pm

        Re: Re:

        This, exactly.

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

      • identicon
        ryuugami, 22 Sep 2020 @ 2:53am

        Re: Re:

        I'm sorry that the nickname given to the Republican-originated plan that was passed as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is causing your brain so many problems.

        I remember seeing an interview where a woman right-out says that she doesn't like Obamacare only because of the name... and suggests that Obama should have named it something else.

        So as usual, the Republican strategy worked exactly as intended.

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

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 3:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I've seen multiple reports like that. Same thing happened with the Lifeline assistance program - an innocuous and vital assistance program that was introduced by Reagan and expanded by Clinton and Bush without controversy. Then, as soon as the right-wing bubble started referring to it as the "Obamaphone" program, they lost their minds.

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 7:41pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I wonder if they realize just how bad that makes them look, that 'a black man's name is attached to it' was enough to get them to switch from liking something to hating it?

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 12:43am

      Re:

      "Obamacare... smh."

      You mean the republican health plan Mitt Romney presented, Obama then took over whereby the republicans voted against their own damn plan just because it was introduced by a black liberal rather than a white republican?

      That plan?

      It's all clear now. All we need to do to get rid of guns is to have democrats try to reinforce the 2nd amendment. Republicans will all throw their guns in a big pile on the town square and set it on fire because if democrats are standing for it, it must be bad.
      Defunding the police? Just have Obama parrot any speech made by Bill Barr and republicans will be out in force lynching police officers.

      Republicans used to be sort of cool, back in the 50's. Now they are tools to blindly content to be swung without a single thought their own.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 1:28am

        Re: Re:

        "Republicans used to be sort of cool, back in the 50's. Now they are tools to blindly content to be swung without a single thought their own."

        Always remember when saying something like that is that the modern day Republicans are not the Republicans of the 1950s. They're the remnants of old school Democrats who switched parties to oppose civil rights, then were bolstered by evangelicals to oppose feminism. If you have to look before the Southern Strategy to find a time when they were good, it's literally not the same party.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 6:29am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Always remember when saying something like that is that the modern day Republicans are not the Republicans of the 1950s."

          Oh, I do. And I'll never cease rubbing that in their faces.

          "They're the remnants of old school Democrats who switched parties to oppose civil rights, then were bolstered by evangelicals to oppose feminism."

          Well, the process is a drawn-out one; Starting with FDR's "New Deal" which alienated a lot of racists while attracting a bunch of fiscal conservatives, kept on through Truman's military integration policy forming the dixiecrats (later on absorbed in the republicans)...

          What is consistent throughout is that in any nation not tied to FPTP-style elections both waves of migrations would simply have formed another persistent party such as the dixiecrats, which would then neatly have swept up all the bigots, xenophobes and racists.

          Instead the democrat umbrella has steadily widened to incorporate everything under the sun (and flipping a coin, apparently, to decide which topic to pursue) while the republican umbrella can still be boiled down to racism, guns, religion and libertarianism. And a message of sheer and unrelenting hatred above all.

          As a result the US is literally hogtied to negative partisanship with, by now, no option short of a full reform of the political system before there's any real hope of getting out of the very deep ditch it's finding itself in.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:31am

    Oh well, we'll get a couple tens of thousands of words written about it on the internet, nothing will happen, and the grift will continue. There's no point in a call to arms, we've lost in a pretty definitive, permanent way. At this point we're all just sitting around a campfire talking about how screwed we all are. Well, I suppose it's still worth it, as long as you can draw a paycheck for futile missives that tell people how to feel about major news events.

    Please give.

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

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 10:35am

      Hey, if you want to give up, nobody is stopping you from grabbing whatever implement of death/destruction you can find and going sickhouse on yourself with it. Your nihilism, however appropriate it may feel for the current sociopolitical moment, is not welcome here.

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 11:22am

      [Trump Liked That]

      Talk about a message that might as well have been written by Trump and his cult and addressed to any that don't agree with him, since it serves their interests perfectly.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2020 @ 2:23pm

      Re:

      I particularly liked the amusing dig about drawing a paycheck.

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

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 12:35pm

    "make sure that the data is secure"

    So,
    We complain about China and how things are run in that country.
    Then we complain about a program that OUR GOV. says is insecure.
    Then we allow 2 of our corps to take it over, and Suggest its going to be More secure.?
    The more security you place into a program, the more it mess's up. This is a CHAT program. And now you want to add WHAT?

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

  • identicon
    David, 21 Sep 2020 @ 1:17pm

    A week ago, we explained that the announced "deal" between Oracle and TikTok was a complete joke and what appeared to be a grift to let Trump claim he had done something, while really just handing a big contract to one of his biggest supporters.

    Are we still talking about TikTok, or already about The Wall? It's hard to keep track.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Sep 2020 @ 2:24pm

      Re:

      Wall-Mart.

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 12:47am

      Re:

      Well, to be fair Trump is close to getting Mexico to pay for a wall blocking the border now that the US is plague rat territory.

      And all he had to do is mishandle a pandemic to the point where other countries are willing to pay to protect themselves from americans crossing the border. Sure, it cost 200k dead americans up until now with the death toll rising but that has no actual dollar value the government has to underwrite.

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

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 1:22am

        Re: Re:

        "Well, to be fair Trump is close to getting Mexico to pay for a wall blocking the border now that the US is plague rat territory."

        The sad thing is that this won't be happening - Mexico will be interested in things that are actually effective, rather than a symbolic gesture that lasts 5 seconds when challenged by a determined immigrant. The only thing that the wall has been good for is that we get comedy value out of Steve Bannon scam that's finally got a few more right-wing grifters arrested.

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

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 6:41am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "...rather than a symbolic gesture that lasts 5 seconds when challenged..."

          Oh, I don't know...a wall might keep trigger-happy border patrol agents from shooting children on the mexican side. That's a fairly tangible benefit, imho.

          "The only thing that the wall has been good for is that we get comedy value out of Steve Bannon scam that's finally got a few more right-wing grifters arrested."

          Look, don't knock it. Looking at 200k of american dead and going "Oh, so that's how Trump wants to get Mexico to fund the wall..." may be grim, but dark as it is, that dry death-rattle laugh is all the comedy 2020 really offers.

          What really bugs me is that the absolutely best possible end of 2020 still has Biden being sworn in as Wall Street's dedicated lobbyist while Trump walks away to obligatory applause right over the corpses of 150k of his own people needlessly dead.

          When GWB lied his way into Iraq and half a million Iraqi civilians died to sheer american ineptitude that was fucking horrifying but the thought that the US idea of the value of human lives is low enough to do something similar to it's own citizenry...that scares me.

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

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 21 Sep 2020 @ 2:35pm

    Nose dive

    Time for people to abandon TikTok.

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

  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 21 Sep 2020 @ 4:18pm

    Techdirt

    Sometimes a writer at TD gets it so right all you have to do is lean back, enjoy the cough pillow, take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and say...

    Thank you, Mike, and everyone at TD and F64.

    E

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Sep 2020 @ 6:27am

    what hasn't been done, pray tell, by Trump, that hasn't been done to aid him and his friends, particularly when there appears to be benefit to the public removed and funds for him/them ensured? and what do you expect when he thinks he is entitled to have more than 2 terms as President (providing he gets 2 terms)? his thinking reminds me of that of some of the worst leaders of some of the worst countries of the Planet! egotistical, dictatorial, all aimed for him, not in the slightest for the people! and the security problems, threats to the USA? 99% of them caused by him, if they do, in fact, even exist at all! but to cause the instability there now is worldwide, that's ridiculous! i'm just waiting until someone really upsets him, some company, somewhere else that can do far more, far better, for cheaper and far more reliable than anything the USA can make (shit. forgot! among those are Huawei) and he really flips out and pushes the button, because that's where he's headed!!

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

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Sep 2020 @ 6:45am

      Re:

      "...his thinking reminds me of that of some of the worst leaders of some of the worst countries of the Planet! "

      Not really accurate. Current national leaders are either nonentities, competent crooks, or thoroughly inept monsters. Putin is shady but...he's competent which means Russia works. Kim Jong-Un is a monster and thoroughly inept.

      Trump has no modern contemporary. The best comparison I can come up with is something between Nero and Commodus from the last days of ancient rome.

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


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