AT&T called out Tucker Carlson for what it called a “misleading” segment on the Fox News host’s Wednesday night show about the U.S.-based telecom’s operations in China.
“Unfortunately, the story that aired was misleading and failed to represent all the facts about the role AT&T plays in serving the telecommunications needs of American companies that operate around the world,” the company said a public statement on its blog.
The company also said it provided an on-the-record statement to Fox News ahead of Carlson’s show that the network chose not to air.
On Wednesday’s show, Carlson questioned AT&T’s lobbying efforts on behalf of China Telecom to prevent the state-owned firm from being added to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Entity List, an American blacklist that would limit trade relationships and blocks technology transfers between U.S. firms like AT&T.
Carlson went on to accuse AT&T and CEO John Stankey of seeking to “prioritize foreign interests over American interests” in its support for China Telecom.
But AT&T disputed that characterization in its statement:
“Some of America’s largest employers are our customers and they depend on our services to communicate around the globe. In providing those services, we comply with all U.S. laws and the laws of the countries where we operate. Without a relationship with a licensed Chinese communications company, no non-Chinese provider can serve U.S. companies operating in China. 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.
“As a leading American company with a long history of innovation, we are proud to have one of America’s largest workforces, and of the fact that in the last five years we’ve invested more than any other public company into the U.S. economy.”
On Thursday, a Fox News spokesperson sidestepped the question about why it did not include any portion of AT&T’s response on air but noted: “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.”