John Oliver blasts ‘business daddy’ AT&T for position on Texas abortion law

John Oliver – back in the studio with an in-person audience for the first time in 18 months – opened Sunday’s “Last Week Tonight” by laying into Texas for its punitive new abortion law, which effectively bans abortions in the state and deputizes private citizens to sue people who provide aid to women in need of an abortion. “This law has somehow managed to do the impossible and made being an Uber driver even worse,” Oliver said. 

Oliver noted that when Texas Governor Greg Abbott was asked on CNBC if he was worried that the law might scare investors away from his state, he said, “You need to understand that there’s a lot of businesses and a lot of Americans who like the social positions the state of Texas is taking.” So far, corporate America generally hasn’t come out and said they like what Texas is doing but hasn’t come out against it, either. This is in stark contrast to corporate support for other social justice issues. 

Instead, some corporations are quietly supporting the bill. One of those companies is HBO’s “business daddy,” AT&T. Oliver explained that a political action committee belonging to the communications giant was a major donor to the sponsors and cosponsors of the bill. Oliver said that “Last Week Tonight” asked the parent company to comment, and they said “AT&T has never taken a stance on abortion. Employee PAC contributions to Texas legislators went to both supporters and opponents of the Texas legislation.” 

Oliver found this insufficient. “Not taking a stance on this issue right now is taking a stance,” he said. “And both-sides-ing abortion isn’t really the PR slam dunk that they seem to think it is.”

“Although it is certainly on-brand for them,” he added. “AT&T clearly likes their public statements the same way that they like their cell signal — hilariously f—ing weak.”

The segment is available to watch on HBO Max. Oliver’s main story, on Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko, is on YouTube

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