AT&T, Verizon Reach Out and Co-Opt Someone

Telecom analyst Bruce Kushnick writes that "Astroturf and co-opted groups representing the deaf, disabled, black, low income and others" are "touting a plan to loosen cable franchise rules for the phone companies." He asks, "What do these groups" -- including the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Consumers for Cable Choice, Video Access Alliance, League of United Latin American Citizens, Alliance for Public Technology, National Association of the Deaf, and American Association of People with Disabilities -- "have in common? They all receive funding from AT&T and/or Verizon, and then lobby for them." This "deception ... is about playing on America's caring about the public interest and about minorities getting a fair shake," Kushnick concludes. Worse, "these organizations have very deep-pocketed funders with lobbying groups, PR firms and others to get them the loudest 'volume' in the media or access to regulators and legislators. They often overwhelm the message of independent consumer groups."