Hey! Guess Who Helps Fund the Heritage Foundation? AT&T and Verizon

Ready as always to weaken the public interest potential of U.S. communications, James L. Gattuso wrote a anti-network neutrality “Backgrounder” for the Heritage Foundation (released June 2, 2006). Subtitled “Will Congress Neuter the Net?”, the piece is a politically timed missive designed to undermine the growing pressure on Congress to enact network neutrality safeguards. It contains the usual litany of rationalizations and under-developed analysis used by big cable and phone advocates to criticize network neutrality.

But notably missing from Mr. Gatttuso’s piece is any admission that two of the Heritage Foundation’s funders just happen to be–yes, AT&T and Verizon. In its 2005 annual report, AT&T is listed as one of the few “premier associates.” Verizon is placed at “executive associates” status. It just so happens, as you know, that AT&T and Verizon are leading the charge against network neutrality (and paying a lot for the work of many opposition groups). Perhaps it was an oversight of Mr. Gattuso. But such financial ties must be identified (he should also have noted that Professor Yoo, whom he frequently cites, undertook a anti-network neutrality study funded by the cable lobby).

We will respond to the so-called Backgrounder in our next post. Mr. Gattuso should look closely at his Heritage’s Foundation funders and acknowledge any potential conflicts of interest.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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