The opening counter to Elizabeth Warren’s bold plan to break up the tech giants has arrived and, boy, does it suck.
Warren announced the latest plank in her presidential platform last week, when she revealed her plan to break up the constantly consolidating and ever-expanding tech sector. In her announcement and in the advertisements her campaign has published in the days since, the 2020 presidential candidate called out Google, Facebook, and Amazon by name, saying they shouldn’t be able to both manufacture the products and run the market.
Last night, Politico reported Facebook removed one of Warren’s campaign ads promoting her plan; a company spokesperson, speaking with the New York Times, cited the company’s policy of barring any company or individual from using the word “Facebook” in their advertising. By late evening, the ads were back online and Warren was gifted a prime example of why her idea is so necessary.
Given the profile of the companies involved, it was only a matter of time before someone was going to try and throw cold water on Warren’s plan. Enter Politico again, which published a piece on Tuesday that essentially attempted to play “gotcha” with Warren’s plan by throwing campaign donations from tech employees between 2011 and 2018 back in her face.
On its face, the premise isn’t a bad one—if Warren had been raking in millions in cash from Silicon Valley over the years and suddenly did an about face, that’s an interesting story to be reported. But that’s not the case. In seven years, Warren tallied just $90,000 in donations from people who listed their current employer as Facebook, Google, or Amazon. And outside of a single $2,700 donation from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the report fails to cite a single other tech executive who stuffed Warren’s coffers. (One needs look no further than Kamala Harris and Cory Booker to know that Warren already has a leg up on her competition in that area.)
The piece didn’t just fail in supplying quality dirt, it also directly seemed to ignore the fact that the majority of its reading audience can comprehend the written English language. In writing that “Warren took at least $90,000 from employees of Amazon, Google and Facebook alone between 2011 and 2018,” and citing the sole Sandberg donation in the same paragraph, Politico attempted to draw a corollary between Warren’s campaign and the likes of Harris and Booker and other Silicon Valley darlings. It does not try in any way to make clear that these donations came from people that simply worked at one of these companies. That is, aside from Sandberg, these donors were not C-level executives sitting in on board room meetings about which company or government or political campaign was willing to pay the most for user data, but workers punching the clock that have at least $200 to throw at a Senate race. Given the nature of the piece, intentionally or unintentionally allowing that point to be murky is bad journalism!
But that’s not even the good shit. The real giveaway of this piece’s origins follows a quote from Warren explaining her plan, with Politico rolling out its own take on the “X says they’re a socialist but they buy groceries” meme:
At the same time, Warren hasn’t weened herself off of tech employee money — or their services. Warren’s campaign, for example, continues to buy ads through Facebook, and her books are still on Amazon.
Come the hell on, guys, you’re just giving the game away now.