Wednesday, May 27, 2009

ATT Up to it's Old Tricks Again

Photo: Mobile phone and thief

Looks like AT&T is up to it's old tricks again. This time instead of illegally helping the Bush administration wiretap it's customers, AT&T was accused in January of this year of spamming their customers with American Idol messages and more recently of helping to rig the text voting for American Idol.

LOS ANGELES — AT&T, one of the biggest corporate sponsors of “American Idol,” might have influenced the outcome of this year’s competition by providing phones for free text-messaging services and lessons in casting blocks of votes at parties organized by fans of Kris Allen, the Arkansas singer who was the winner of the show last week.
AT&T spammed a "'significant number' of its 75 million customers" yesterday with text messages advertising the premiere of American Idol. AT&T also pissed off a significant number of its 75 million customers in the process, and the company's justification for the blitz isn't exactly making AT&T sound smart when it comes to understanding what qualifies as spam.
I guess after Congress granted them immunity for helping the Bush administration with their illegal wiretapping AT&T felt that they could do anything they wanted to do without suffering any consequences. 

Indeed, back in 2008 Boing Boing documented that AT&T was so unrepentent for helping the Bush administration spy on Americans and so confident that nothing would happen to them that they even ran a parody about spying on people on their billing website. I guess AT&T thought the parody was a perfect way to advertise their online billing program and at the same time thumb their nose at those who had the nerve to criticize their lawless participation in the Bush spying program. 

Our establishment media never got real excited about covering AT&T's lawless behavior in helping the government spy on Americans.

Unfortunately, there has been scant coverage by MSM of the AT&T/NSA spying program and the pending court cases against it, despite the imminent threat this program and its legalization poses to communication privacy in America, and indeed to democracy itself. So why haven't the MSM given due attention to this serious threat to national security? 

The answer probably lies in the ever-increasing trend toward corporate media consolidation in America. First, the MSM corporations including News Corp (FOX), General Electric (NBC), Time Warner (CNN), Viacom (CBS), and Disney (ABC) have all enjoyed joint ventures with AT&T. Since these few giant media corporations that control network news in America are driven largely by their bottom lines, they are not likely to persist in exposing a serious business partner to bad press. Consequently, such stories are played down or not covered at all. 

Second, the behemoth media and telecom companies have strong monetary incentives to cooperate with the government -- such as the receipt of lucrative military defense contracts, tax breaks, and relaxed ownership and antitrust rules. For example, the recent merger of Bell South with AT&T was possible only because the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), presently chaired by Kevin Martin, a Bush appointee with close ties to the White House, approved the merger. 

Maybe the allegations that they participated in a vote rigging scheme for American idol and that they spammed their customers will prove to be just too juicy for our tabloid loving establishment media to resist. Maybe this time AT&T may actually get the unwanted negative publicity that they so richly deserved for spying on their customers. 

Sadly, in the upside down world that we live in today, where a man who authorized torture is given the same respect by our establishment media as that given to our president, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if AT&T suffers more negative consequences for rigging  American Idol votes than they ever did for illegally spying on Americans. 

Update: Looks like the establishment media is going to give AT&T another pass. They are now reporting that the vote rigging scandal is "overblown." Here is the evidence they cite to support their view that this vote rigging is overblown:

1. it was just a few "overeager" AT&T employees who brought the phones to the Kris Allen viewing parties. (it was not AT&T policy is was just a "few bad apples")
2. AT&T employees giving texting lessons at these Allen parties is no different than citizens who band together as a voting bloc. (yeah, right)
3. It was the Allen fans who went to the trouble to get AT&T at their party (they were smart enough to cheat)
4. Fox has a system to discard "power votes" (oh a system. Did the "system" work?)
5. conspiracy theorists should note that Allen's rendition of the "awful" final song outranks Lambert's fantastic rendition of Mad World on Itunes according to rankings of single downloads for May 25. (conspiracy theorists? how about AT&T employees frantically downloading to "prove" voting was not rigged?).
6. Imperfect science but Fox keeps voting as fair as possible (yeah, how?)
7. Let's put this in the rear view mirror. (let's look forward, not backward)

Wow. This sounds like a lot of the same type of comments we've heard about other "scandals."

We have a few bad apples, people accused of being conspiracy theorists, let's look foward not backward, etc. What we don't have is any evidence that AT&T didn't rig the voting.


  1. Actually I am glad it happened, because now it is obvious to everyone what is going on in this country which claims to be a beacon of honesty - it is not bad at all if people look at themselves and see what they really are - it is our consciousness that allows things like this happen...



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