The world’s largest entertainment conglomerates have either very recently grown a backbone or found a convenient excuse to save money. But as The Hollywood Reporter and New York Times report, after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol building, coming mere feet and seconds away from a confrontation with lawmakers, companies such as Comcast, The Walt Disney Company, Hallmark, AT&T, Facebook, and the Motion Picture Association are cutting off political contributions to members of the Republican party.
Most of the backlash is centered around the man who is somehow still President, Donald Trump. He’s already received bans from Facebook and Twitter, and other digital platforms including Snapchat, YouTube, Reddit, and Twitch have since followed suit.
Now, entertainment heavyweights are cutting off the money tap to members of Congress who voted to overturn the election results. These include senators Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, Cindy Hyde-Smith, Cynthia Lummis, Roger Marshall, John Kennedy, Rick Scott, and Tommy Tuberville, plus 121 GOP House members led by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. All of them are facing some consequences, none more so than Senator Hawley.
Aside from Trump, Hawley was the most vocal critic of the November 3rd election, using inflammatory speech to imply that President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was illegitimate. Soon after the storming of the Capitol, Simon & Schuster cancelled his book deal. Now Hallmark Cards, owner of the Hallmark Channel and one of the largest employers in Hawley’s home state of Missouri, has asked him to return all political donations. “Hallmark believes the peaceful transition of power is part of the bedrock of our democratic system, and we abhor violence of any kind,” Hallmark said in a statement. Noting that they had also donated to Senator Marshall of Kansas, the company added, “The recent actions of Senators Josh Hawley and Roger Marshall do not reflect our company’s values. As a result, HALLPAC requested Sens. Hawley and Marshall to return all HALLPAC campaign contributions.”
The larger entertainment behemoths are in the habit of donating to every single member of Congress. For now, at least, that practice has been suspended. Disney has made the not-particularly-brave decision to impose a one-year donation ban on every lawmaker who voted against certifying the election. “The insurrection at our nation’s Capitol was a direct assault on one of our country’s most revered tenets: the peaceful transition of power,” Disney said in a statement. “In the immediate aftermath of that appalling siege, Members of Congress had an opportunity to unite—an opportunity that some sadly refused to embrace. In light of these events, we have decided we will not make political contributions in 2021 to lawmakers who voted to reject the certification of the Electoral College votes.”
Others have promised to “suspend” donations without saying for how long. AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, simply said that, “Employees on our Federal PAC Board convened a call today and decided to suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes last week.”
Comcast, parent company of NBCUniversal, opted for stronger language but an equally vague period of suspension, writing, “The peaceful transition of power is a foundation of America’s democracy. This year, that transition will take place among some of the most challenging conditions in modern history and against the backdrop of the appalling violence we witnessed at the U.S. Capitol last week. At this crucial time, our focus needs to be on working together for the good of the entire nation. Consistent with this view, we will suspend all of our political contributions to those elected officials who voted against certification of the electoral college votes, which will give us the opportunity to review our political giving policies and practices.”
The Motion Picture Association took a similar tact, though their financial cut-off will continue “for the foreseeable future.” Executive vice president of U.S. government affairs Patrick Kilcur said, “The Motion Picture Association is shocked and saddened by the horrific events at the U.S. Capitol last week. As such, we have decided to suspend for the foreseeable future all contributions to Members of Congress who voted to challenge the certification of the votes of the Electoral College.”
This is hardly the extent of the backlash. The P.G.A. of America has terminated an agreement to hold the P.G.A. Championship at Trump’s golf course, and New York City is cutting off the Trump Organization’s operations of the Central Park Carousel, Wollman and Lasker skating rinks, and the Ferry Point Golf Course. Additionally, the online payment platform Stripe has announced it will no longer process payments for Trump’s campaign website, Shopify has closed two e-stores run by Trump and his company, and several large financial companies, including Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo have suspended political donations for now.
A reckoning has come for entertainers as well as entertainment companies. Some artists participated in the protests outside the Capitol, including Ariel Pink and John Maus. Pink has since been dropped by his record label. Iced Earth guitarist Jon Schaffer actually participated in mobbing the Capitol building, and is currently being sought by the FBI. Others have offered commentary on the events. Lana Del Rey had a tone-deaf look a the bright side, saying that while Trump’s presidency was bad, “it really needed to happen.” Arnold Schwarzenegger gave a rousing speech defending democracy while holding a sword, and Sacha Baron Cohen called Trump’s Twitter ban, “the most important moment in the history of social media.”