On Friday, corporate giant AT&T joined the growing list of companies to withdraw support of U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) — the white nationalist sympathizer seeking reelection to a ninth term.
AT&T, completing its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, assumed the role as HBO’s parent company in June. Yet that did not deter TV host John Oliver from chiming in.
Oliver laid into the company during Sunday’s edition of “Last Week Tonight,” calling the timing of the announcement “a little weird, because King has been exactly this racist for years now.”
But AT&T, Oliver said, never excelled in the skill of picking up on business signals, which explains its failure to catch on. Continuing his assault, the host mocked: “How do you like them apples, business daddy? I bet you don’t like those apples, do you?”
A handful of prominent companies have distanced themselves from King in recent weeks, including Intel, Purina and dairy company Land O’Lakes.
Following suit, in a two-part tweet, AT&T said that its Political Action Committee had concluded that continued support of King “would not be consistent with one of our core values … ‘Stand for Equality.’ ”
The announcement came days before Tuesday’s congressional midterms in which King seeks reelection.
In the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, criticism of King has increased. But the representative has a history of publicly associating with individuals and parties with strong ties to white supremacists — more recently, Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy and the Austria Freedom Party.
Neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer has also called the Iowa candidate “basically an open white nationalist.”
FiveThirtyEight nevertheless projects the incumbent having more than an 85 percent chance of beating his Democratic challenger, J.D. Scholten.
On air, Oliver continued to voice his disdain about AT&T’s backing of King for this long, commenting on a recent outburst in which he lashed out at a reporter who inquired about the lawmaker’s support of white supremacists at a news conference in Iowa.
Oliver called King’s response “spectacular.”
People who are not white nationalists would simply say “no,” Oliver noted. “The news really shouldn’t be these companies bailed on him, so much as they were okay with him for a shockingly long time."