Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The Oracle–TikTok Potemkin Sale

It is Monday, yet TikTok and WeChat both remain available in the United States despite the president repeatedly stating that their popularity was a national security nightmare of pressing concern which required his personal intervention. It is almost as though he doesn’t have the first clue about anything ever.

At any rate, the TikTok partial sale of unknown structure is still being vetted as of Monday, contrary to the president’s position on Saturday, but it has all of the trappings of a Potemkin arrangement.

Scott Rosenberg, Axios:

“Make the owners sell to an American firm” has turned into a complex transaction with plenty of Chinese involvement and a lot hanging on an IPO that might never happen.

The U.S. won some security concessions, but no one can be sure that the TikTok threat — if it was ever real — has been eliminated.

The U.S. cut is deferred and conditional. The terms save the president’s face but don’t actually give him what he demanded.

One new hiccup is the president’s requirement of a political financial kickback, despite the illegality of his previous “key money” demand.

Jennifer Jacobs, Mario Parker, and Josh Wingrove, Bloomberg:

Trump said Saturday that he had approved a transaction between Oracle Corp., Walmart Inc. and ByteDance Ltd. to create a new company called TikTok Global to run the U.S. video-sharing app. As part of the arrangement, Trump told reporters at the White House the companies agreed to contribute $5 billion to an education foundation.

[…]

ByteDance first heard about the $5 billion education fund from news reports, a company spokeswoman said.

This will probably never happen, but it is worth thinking about how the president used the pretence of national security to enrich a donor through a forced business arrangement and wants to get a cut to increase the jingoism ratio in school curriculums. I can point out how wildly corrupt, dishonest, and vile this is, but I am Canadian and can’t vote. If you’re American, you can and should vote.