By Karl Bode
Outside from perhaps military contractors, you’d be pretty hard pressed to find a US business sector that benefitted more from Trumpism that the telecom sector. AT&T nabbed a $42 billion tax break in exchange for roughly 42,000 layoffs and a reduction in network investment. T-Mobile, after hiring Corey Lewandowski and throwing money at Trump’s DC hotel, nabbed approval for a Sprint merger most objective experts warned would result in tens of thousands of job losses, less competition, and higher prices. And telecom giants convinced the Trump FCC to effectively lobotomize its consumer protection authority.
The telecom industry also managed to kill net neutrality, neuter local municipalities’ abilities to stand up to wireless giants in negotiation, and kill some modest FCC broadband privacy rules before they could even take effect. Topping that off, the telecom sector spent several years convincing the lion’s share of DC that “big tech” is the only real monopolistic threat in America, resulting in the entirety of our regulatory and antitrust enforcement being fixated on Silicon Valley while giving telecom (natural monopolies with a thirty year track record of anti-consumer, anticompetitive behavior) a complete pass.
All in all, that’s a pretty good haul in a four year span. And I omitted a lot of unidirectional regulatory favors for fear of boring you.
Throughout this period, telecom giants were happy to look the other way as brown-skinned kids were locked in cages, bigotry was used as a political bludgeon, racism flourished, rampant corruption ballooned, and the country descended into chaos at the every whim of an idiot king. Only now, that public opposition has ballooned in the wake of Trump supporters beating a cop to death, has the industry had enough. And by “enough,” we mean temporarily suspending select PAC spending for a few weeks until the outrage dies down:
“A large and growing number of tech and telecom companies are freezing their political contributions to Washington lawmakers after President Trump incited a mob that attacked the US Capitol last week. And some companies – including telecom heavyweights AT&T, Verizon and Comcast – are specifically targeting lawmakers such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo), who opposed President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.”
Keep in mind, AT&T and Comcast alone were some of the heaviest donors to Republicans that spread bullshit claims to undermine a free and fair election, resulting in riots and casualties. And AT&T was almost certainly playing a major role in the GOP attacks on Section 230, a law essential to the basic functioning of online discourse. And who can forget that time AT&T threw $600,000 under the table at Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen to gain additional insider access to the President as it pursued the very successful lobotomization of the FCC.
Now the same companies that threw millions at Trumpland while ignoring or downplaying every last scandal want a cookie for temporarily suspending PAC spending for a few weeks until public outrage dies down. Something that usually happens anyway right about now as companies adjust to the new political realities of a new incoming administration and a shifting Congress. And because the US press is routinely incapable of calling a duck a duck (fascism, racism, corruption, hypocrisy), it will probably work.