He is what he has always been, an apologist and paid advocate for the Bell companies and their causes. He hides his source of funds, and reporters new to every beat keep buying the act. It's crazy. Crazy like a Fox.
This week he's a concern troll, having issued a "book" (the same way Regnery publishes "books") that is nothing but a long hit piece against Google. USA Today gave him an admiring interview without once asking him where his money comes from, which is like treating Glenn Beck as an unbiased journalist.
Cleland's theme is that you can't trust Google, that Google always lies, that Google is not out to serve anyone but its own shareholders, and that it deserves the strict government scrutiny given his clients, the Bells.
The aim is simple. To hobble Google with lawyers and layers of bureaucracy, hordes of people who spend their days focused inward, taking big salaries to prevent innovators from innovating.
Google has not acted in that way, and any unbiased observer knows it. Cleland is not an unbiased observer, and it is journalistic malpractice of the highest order to treat him as though he is one.
He's not an analyst. He's a paid apologist and long-time lobbyist for AT&T and Verizon, for the people who stole hundreds of billions of dollars in government money promising to deliver broadband, which stuck that money in their pockets buying one another and then stuck out their hands for more, which have run the wireless spectrum they bought with your money for their own profit, aiming to do nothing more than slow progress and set a high price for every bit delivered.
The worst thing Google has done, frankly, has been to block apps that let people use their phones in defiance of AT&T's policy. For this the press condemns Google.
While AT&T has pocketed hundreds of billions in subsidies over the last decade, Google has actually delivered broadband capability to every city and town in this country without subsidy. While AT&T has put its money into lobbyists, lawyers, and phonies like Cleland, Google has put its money into dropping the costs of delivering Internet stuff as low as possible.
The result is that Google has an enormous cost advantage over everyone in the provision of Internet data, Internet answers and Internet content. Its costs are several factorial lower than those of the companies that took the government's money.
Which is my point. Conservatives spent decades railing against government welfare, against the very idea that some poor black mother of 10 might be getting a few dollars with which to buy food (or liquor). They were right, in a way. The worst thing government can do is give you free money.
But what's true for a black mother of 10 is doubly true for a corporation worth hundreds of billions of dollars. That's how AT&T rolls. It's how Scott Cleland rolls.
It's not how Google rolls. And if people would cover trolls like Cleland honestly, it will keep rolling that way, to the benefit of all Americans.