Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is taking some time away from inflicting inconceivable suffering on trans children and allegedly defrauding investors to warn DirecTV: bring back your Trumpiest channel… or he’ll be really mad… or something.
Paxton, who has never been one to pass up an opportunity to debase his official position to pursue the Republican grievance of the week, has joined with his GOP colleagues in five other states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana and South Carolina) to pen a letter warning of consequences if the contract between DirecTV and the MAGA propaganda network One America News (OAN) isn’t renewed.
In January, the AT&T-owned satellite TV provider announced its intent to drop OAN from its roster at the end of the current contract — effectively cutting the Donald Trump-obsessed channel off from its only major distributor and sole reliable source of revenue. DirecTV had been forced to carry the network as part of a settlement agreement. OAN’s content consisted of a bizarre mix of fascist calls to violence, conspiracy theories, and sheer cringe, so it’s not surprising that DirecTV decided to do some cord-cutting of its own.
Terrible consequences. Dire ones that would shake even the most resolute of corporate giants. Consequences like they’ll be really mad and uhh… something something… boycott.
In the letter to DirecTV Bill Morrow, Paxton and the other AGs wrote that DirecTV’s decision was “highly troubling and disappointing” and “masking what is obviously viewpoint discrimination with neutral corporate-speak.” They “strongly recommend” that the cable provider keep the channel in its available bundles. The AGs went on to argue that DirecTV’s explanation that their decision to drop OAN was based “routine internal review” is actually just cover for “powerful leftwing voices” demanding corporate censorship:
Obviously, these inflammatory accusations against OAN are ridiculous. And even if they weren’t — that is, even if OAN were more accurately construed as simply representing a different perspective from the legacy media’s liberal orthodoxies — that’s precisely what your majority owner AT&T wanted when it signed OAN: viewpoint diversity. Those values appear to have changed dramatically in late 2020 when the legacy media decided Joe Biden was the next president.
Why, exactly, are six Republican AGs spending their time, and thus taxpaer dollar, writing this letter? Despite the fact that Paxton regularly threatens to “investigate” whichever company or person happens to be the target of any given week’s Fox News outrage, the letter is curiously devoid of any promise of official retribution. Instead, the AGs wrote that maybe there will be a spontaneous AT&T boycott from Trump supporters:
Your failure to do so will not only cause you to lose millions of dollars in business, but also drive many millions of Americans to simply cancel your services outright, as President Trump and other leading figures have already called for.
Perhaps this is because there is no actual legal basis via which the Republican attorneys general could issue a credible threat.
OAN’s contract with DirecTV expires in April, and there’s no indication a meaningless letter from Paxton will have any more impact than OAN host Dan Ball’s pleas for loyal viewers to dig up blackmail material on AT&T chairman William Kennard. Perhaps they’ll convince a few guys wearing sunglasses indoors to smash their AT&T cable boxes, but that would require they miss a few football games, so probably not.
When he’s not penning meaningless letters to satellite TV providers, Paxton spends his time deputizing Texas child protective services to terrorize the families of trans children who receive treatment for gender dysphoria, trying to ban abortion, being investigated by the FBI for allegedly abusing his office and accepting bribes. He is also still facing criminal charges of securities fraud he was first arrested for in 2015.
DirecTV didn’t respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment on this story, but we’ll update if we hear back.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.