Thursday, September 27, 2007



Verizon claims it was-- oops!-- all a great big misunderstanding; they meant no harm and it was certainly nonpartisan. Big mistakey-poo. Sorry, sorry, sorry; you can trust us. You won't read about it in the NY Times and you won't read about it in the Washington Post-- more because their reporters are lazy and coopted by the comfy system they thrive in than because of politics per se-- but Verizon did not make a big mistakey-poo; they were out for revenge and out for partisan gain.

Today's front page Times coverage was very tepid and... what's the opposite of hard-hitting? Soft-hitting?
Saying it had the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, Verizon Wireless last week rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program.

But the company reversed course this morning, saying it had made a mistake.
“The decision to not allow text messaging on an important, though sensitive, public policy issue was incorrect, and we have fixed the process that led to this isolated incident,” Jeffrey Nelson, a company spokesman, said in a statement.

“It was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy,” Mr. Nelson said. “That policy, developed before text messaging protections such as spam filters adequately protected customers from unwanted messages, was designed to ward against communications such as anonymous hate messaging and adult materials sent to children.”

Mr. Nelson noted that text messaging is “harnessed by organizations and individuals communicating their diverse opinions about issues and topics” and said Verizon has “great respect for this free flow of ideas.”

Do they? Are you reassured? The Times reporter may be. But DWT readers better not be. Maybe he was satisfied by reading on the Verizon Foundation website how antiseptically neutral the company is when it comes to... ewwww... politics. But that's a big pack o' lies.

One doesn't have to look very hard or very long-- not that that matters to the Times or Post-- to get to the root of the problem between NARL and Verizon. Sniffing around among Verizon's top political donors, the one who stands out is Executive Vice President and chief lobbyist Thomas Tauke, a former far right Republican congressman (1979-91) from Iowa. When he ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin in 1990, the virulently anti-choice Tauke was publicly targeted for defeat by NARL, which spent at least $100,000 on behalf of the pro-choice Harkin who won with 54% of the vote. Planned Parenthood and NARL both campaigned against Tauke and his hateful constitutional amendment criminalizing abortion. Tauke talked about NARL a lot and harbors great hatred towards them for ending what he thought was a promising political career on the fringes of the extreme right.

Tauke and his family have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to far right anti-choice Republicans. He personally has made $192,032 in major political donations to Republicans. Dennis Strigl, president and vice chairman, and his wife Amanda have given over $63,000 in politcal donations, primarily to Republicans. I guess the traditional media doesn't find this relevant, certainly not as relevant as Norman Hsu donating money to Hillary Clinton, which has been ginned up into a month-long major media clusterfuck. But had the Times or Post bothered to check, back copies of the National Journal from July, 1990 and March, 1991 they certainly would have found the context of the Verizon jihad against NARL. In fact, the Post wouldn't have even had to leave home! On October 15, 1989 the Post ran a story, "Abortion-Rights Group Targets Nine '90 Races," which quotes Kate Michelman, then NARL Executive Director, talking about targeting anti-choice Republicans. "To elected officials, we say: If you remain out of step on abortion rights, you will soon be out of a job." This was a departure for NARL, which previously had only rewarded their friends, not gone after their enemies. The Post story mentions "The 'NARAL Nine' target list includes:…Rep. Thomas J. Tauke (R-Iowa), who is challenging abortion-rights supporter Sen. Tom Harkin (D)."

In one of the National Journal stories (July 23, 1990) Tauke is quoted saying "When NARAL comes into the state, I'm not going to sit back and take it." Apparently he hasn't moved on.

But the real takeaway here is that-- like with the recent AT&T/Pearl Jam censorship travesty, these mega-telecoms, who spend millions of dollars on politcians, cannot, must not, be trusted to ever do what is right for the public. This disgraceful incident underlines the absolute need for Net Neutrality. Remember, text messaging is an important new tool for advocacy organizations seeking to educate and alert their members. It is constitutionally protected political speech. Verizon's very partisan decision to block this new form of political speech interferes with its users' right to get information and is clearly illegal. Do you think the recipients of their campaign largesse will do anything about it? You know, the ones who condemned the anti-war citizens' ad yesterday?

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At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The hypocrisy level of these Verizon people is pretty astounding. They have a problem with a pro-choice organization using text messagiing, yet they are the same people who make violent porn, child porn, white supremecist websites, terror websites, Bush propaganda, etc. available to all, and at high speed, too! Typical of Republicans and typical of our Korporations. I can't wait 'til the next telemarketing call that I get from these scum. Go ahead. Call me with an offer again. Go ahead. Dial my number. Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya? Go ahead. Make my day!

At 12:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more. In Verizon's dark halls, anit-choice Tom Tauke is deciding for customers that pro-choice messages = "unsavory" content while VIOS-enhanced porn and violent content = profits.

Time to switch providers since I asked for service, not distillation. Glad to see this victory for NARAL, but the larger first amendment issue remains.

At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give me a break. Verizon is already inculcated with Feminist BS.

Take a look at the Verizon HopeLine Fact Sheet:

It wreaks of the usual Feminist BS "women are the only victims of domestic violence" nonsense.

Contrast it with this Fact Sheet:

"Women are just as likely as men to engage in partner aggression."

Why don't you call Verizon out on the double standard regarding only supporting "female" victims of domestic violence?

Verizon is obviously doing more than enough to please the angry Feminists.

They're already on your Feminist/Socialist/Communist/Progressive side and you're trying to shame them?

Feminism = Misandry

At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The opposite of hard-hitting isn't soft-hitting, it's soft-petting. AKA maintaining a good relationship with the advertisers. What could be more American than that?

At 6:57 PM, Blogger tm said...

At first I thought it might have just been some kind of coincidence. I mean, what kind of scummy douche uses his apolitical job to advance his politics?

And so, on a hunch, I checked out the Verizon Foundation 990-PF to see whom they give money to. I figured it'd be your average corporate foundation - lotsa community centers and uncontroversial stuff.

I've only made it through the B's, and I've found Ave Maria University, a "pregnancy center," Alliance Defense Fund, and so on.

So, yep, i wouldn't put it past this guy to think it's his job as an officer in Verizon to try to quash women's rights.


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