comScore AT&T Fires Back at 'Misleading' Tucker Carlson Segment

AT&T Fires Back at Tucker Carlson Over ‘Misleading’ Segment, Says He ‘Failed to Represent All the Facts’ About Its Role in China

Global conglomerate AT&T and Tucker Carlson clashed over the Fox News prime time host’s Wednesday night segment, in which he called out the company for lobbying against possible U.S. government sanctions on a Chinese telecom partner.

The report in question involved AT&T and its efforts to prevent China Telecom, a state government-owned firm, from being included on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Entity List, which acts like a formal blacklist that severely limits trade relationships and blocks certain technology transfers between foreign entities and U.S. firms. The Trump administration accused China Telecom, along with dozens of other Chinese firms, of being secretly backed by the Chinese military and assisting in the massive ethnic cleansing of Uighur minorities in southern China as well as undermining U.S. national security interests in the region.

Citing reporting from a conservative news site, the Fox host accused AT&T and its CEO, John Stankey, of choosing to “prioritize foreign interests over American interests” for lobbying against China Telecom’s inclusion on the Entity List.

“We were told China Telecom was set to be sanctioned because of its alleged support of human rights abuses by China’s government, and there are very many of those,” Carlson said. “AT&T is a proud partner of China Telecom, has a joint venture with China Telecom. In a statement provided to this show, AT&T admitted that it does not want China Telecom on the entities list, citing ‘potential unintended consequences.'”

Moments later, Carlson went even further in his rhetoric. “Why would [Stankey] jeopardize the image of AT&T by siding with a company that has had a hand in genocide in China?” he asked. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”

Wrapping up the segment, the Fox host took a not-so-subtle shot at rival cable network CNN, which is a subsidiary of AT&T: “I look forward to CNN covering this story in some detail, given their often-expressed concern for human rights.”

After the show aired, AT&T went public with the full statement it had provided to Carlson beforehand. Calling the Fox News segment “misleading,” AT&T claimed Carlson’s portrayal “failed to represent all the facts” about the reasoning behind its decision.

“Without a relationship with a licensed Chinese communications company, no non-Chinese provider can serve U.S. companies operating in China,” the AT&T statement noted. “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 added, essentially confirming that it had requested its partner not be sanctioned.

The AT&T corporate statement went on to reiterate that by blocking its relationship with China Telecom, U.S. customer of AT&T would be forced to instead solely rely on Chinese-based companies inside the country. “Without a relationship with a licensed Chinese communications company, AT&T (or any other non-Chinese carrier) cannot fulfill its obligation to support our US based clients operating in China,” it noted.

Though the Trump White House issued a flurry of last-minute restrictions on Chinese firms, it never did officially list China Telecom on the Entity List before being replaced by President Joe Biden’s administration last month. And it is not yet clear whether or not Biden will follow through and blacklist the company.

When contacted for a response to AT&T’s claim that Carlson was “misleading,” a Fox News network representative said: “AT&T’s statement does not deny the reporting about the company’s role in opposing sanctions against a Chinese telecom company. It acknowledges that role.”

Watch the video above, via Fox News.

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