Lately, there's been a great deal of press about certain civic-minded organizations taking money from AT&T and then coming out and supporting the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. Groups like the NAACP and the National Education Association are being called out for possible conflicts of interest. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), in particular, is also taking heat for this and for submitting and then retracting a letter opposing Net Neutrality.
As someone who founded an advocacy organization that's fighting for Net Neutrality, I am somewhat incensed. I'd like to think that these great organizations are taking a stance on principle and not being swayed by their donors.
On the other hand, my organization, the Open Source Democracy Foundation (OSDF), is always in need of more contributions. So, now seems like the perfect time to shamelessly do some fundraising.
Some may read this post and look down on me for being so forthright in my attempts to be bribed. But don't think of me as an opportunist. Think of me as one who takes advantage of situations at an opportune time. Completely different.
Here is a letter I've drafted that I would be willing to submit to the FCC on behalf of the OSDF in exchange for a significant donation from AT&T:
Dear Chairman Genachowski and FCC Commissioners:
We write you as citizens of the Internet who are urging support for AT&T and their merger with T-Mobile. And also to defame all those who oppose it.
The Open Source Democracy Foundation is a diverse community born from the website Reddit.com, whose interests include pictures of cats, puns, and vicious debates about whether Ron Paul would make a good President.
While I could go on about merits of swallowing a competitor rather than spending the capital to actually improve service, I'd rather not bore you to death. Instead, allow me to attack the various detractors of this merger.
First, let's look at Sprint CEO Dan Hesse. He's been at the merger hearings talking up a storm about how this acquisition will bring about a "1980's style duopoly" with AT&T and Verizon controlling over 80% of the market. But let's face facts. Competition may sound nice "in theory" and work well "in practice." But is it not terribly burdensome when we have to choose between things? Why have four major carriers when you can only have three? The closer our mobile carrier choices mirror a menu at Chipolte, the better.
And can we really take the Sprint CEO seriously? I mean, who casts themselves in their own commercials? We get it, Mr. Hesse, you look good in a scarf. Stop showing off.
Another one of the merger opponents, Free Press, is running a giant campaign against the merger. Part of their argument is that this merger is going to hurt jobs. Think about this, though: does anyone really like their job? I once worked for a frozen yogurt shop and I hated it. Do you know how hard it is to scoop chocolate chips with a tiny scoop? And why do you people need to mix all these flavors? Just pick one and go with it! More jobs equals more tiny scoops, and that's bad for America and their collective wrists.
Free Press also argues that as a duopoly AT&T and Verizon are going to use their increased market share to "play gatekeeper on the wireless web, picking winners and losers and ultimately slowing the pace of mobile internet innovation." Well, of course. Who wouldn't want to play Gatekeeper? I used to play Gatekeeper all the time as a kid. It's right up there with that other classic childhood outdoor game, "Capture the Regulatory Agency" (for which, regrettably, I was always picked last).
Public Knowledge is another one of these "public interest groups" that has this idea that the merger is going to be bad for America. They called this merger, "Unthinkable." Well, we've got another name for this merger: "Thinkable."
You all at the FCC don't have to love this merger or even like it. You just have to roll over and take it. Kind of like what you did with the NBC/Comcast merger. (By the way, that one is working great! They've made it a whole six months before being accused of violating the terms of their merger.)
Of course, I don't have to tell the FCC how great AT&T is. You got their cupcakes.
In sum, we believe that the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger will serve the public interest. And if it doesn't, oh well. After all, as AT&T pointed out, this merger is "not a public opinion poll." Because, of course, if it was, you'd have to take into account the nearly 30,000 people who've left a public comment on the merger at the FCC's website -- the vast majority of which are in opposition.
Thank you for your consideration of this letter and for keeping in mind the AT&T-sponsored voices of the OSDF and internet community. We are counting on you to do the right thing. By which we mean the thing that us and other groups are asking because AT&T gives us money.
President and Founder
Open Source Democracy Foundation (OSDF)
There you go, AT&T, mull it over. Think about what you're willing to spend. Don't give me your answer right now.
Just know that the OSDF has a lot of ideas for the cash. There's been talk of an OSDF houseboat and we've also discussed the possibility of investing in a RedBox. We'd love for AT&T to make those dreams come true. Just like you always do.