Last night Tucker Carlson did a segment exposing how AT&T lobbied the Trump Commerce Department on behalf of China Telecom, a communications company which is owned by the Chinese Communist Party:
As Tucker reports, the Trump admin was considering sanctions against China Telecom for supporting the human rights abuses of the CCP against the Uyghurs. A former Commerce Undersecretary came on the show to explain how they had intel that the CCP used China Telecom to spy on minority populations to help round up these Uyghurs and put them in a modern day concentration camp.
The Trump Commerce Department wanted to sanction China Telecom by putting them on something known as the Entity List, which would “block US companies from selling products to certain foreign firms without first getting a license.”
But AT&T came and lobbied the Trump Commerce Department on behalf of China Telecom in order to prevent them from being put on this Entity List, warning Commerce of unintended consequences. Tucker mentioned this on his show.
Tucker was essentially accusing AT&T of putting foreign interests above American interests in supporting the CCP, and Tucker’s guest said AT&T was putting profits over human rights abuses. Sounds pretty bad.
After Tucker’s segment ran last night, AT&T released a response to his segment, claiming that Tucker didn’t tell his viewers what was in their full statement they sent him before the show. This is what they wrote:
We feel compelled to set the record straight on a story that ran on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Feb. 24. The story was about the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List which governs trade activities sanctioned by the U.S. government. Unfortunately, the story that aired was misleading and failed to represent all the facts about the role AT&T plays in serving the telecommunications needs of American companies that operate around the world. Below is the on-the-record statement we provided in advance, which they did not include in their story. We are sharing here our statement and encourage you to read it:
“Some of America’s largest employers are our customers and they depend on our services to communicate around the globe. In providing those services, we comply with all U.S. laws and the laws of the countries where we operate. Without a relationship with a licensed Chinese communications company, no non-Chinese provider can serve U.S. companies operating in China. In the absence of that, such support would be provided by a Chinese state-owned enterprise instead of AT&T or any other American company.
“We and other companies explained this to the Commerce Department and other government officials to inform their policy decision about potential unintended consequences of placing China Telecom on the entities list.
AT&T is admitting they advised the Trump Commerce Department not to sanction China Telecom by putting them on the Entity List, however they include a reason that neither Tucker nor his guest mentioned. AT&T is arguing that they have U.S. customers in China and without having a business relationship with China Telecom, they would be unable to operate in China and serve their U.S. customers. Which would mean the CCP-owned China telecom would end up supporting these customers. If the Trump Commerce Department had put China Telecom on the Entity List, that would potentially leave all of AT&T’s customers at the mercy of China Telecom.
Honestly that seems like a legitimate argument to me and I’m surprised Tucker didn’t mention it on his show. He apparently had the information. Tucker accused AT&T of putting foreign interests above American interests, but it seems to me that AT&T was fighting for their American customers in China, to prevent them from having to use a telecom controlled by the CCP.
One might argue that AT&T was putting profits over human rights abuses, but don’t they also have the obligation to fight for their U.S. customers in China?
At the very least this ‘lobbying’ effort by AT&T was far more complicated than Tucker revealed on his show, and he did a disservice to his viewers by not providing them with all the facts.