James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal is harkening back to the hubbub last fall over "Obama phones" handed out to poor voters last fall. It's not an Obama program, per se, but a long-standing initiative of the Federal Communications Commission to provide land-line or cell phones to people who provide a tax return or an Electronic Benefits Transfer card to prove they are low-income Americans.
Lifeline was a $2.19 billion program in 2012. London's Daily Mail is reporting how investigative reporter James O'Keefe is exposing how contractors handed out the free phones and promised not to "judge" when they were told the phones would be sold to buy heroin:
Undercover video shot in May by a conservative activist shows two corporate distributors of free cell phones handing out the mobile devices to people who have promised to sell them for drug money, to buy shoes and handbags, to pay off their bills, or just for extra spending cash. . . .
When James O'Keefe, whose Project Veritas is a perennial thorn in the side of progressive policymakers, sent an undercover actor into a Stand Up Wireless location in Philadelphia, the man's stated purpose was to buy drugs.
"Once you guys give me this phone, it's my phone?" he asked an employee inside a Philadelphia brick-and-mortal [sic] Stand Up Wireless location. "I can, like, sell it and stuff?"
"Whatever you want to do with it," the worker replied.
"So I'm [going to] get some money for heroin," he offered.
The employee coolly responded, "Hey, I don't judge."
The Mail reports that the leading supplier of these phones is "TracFone, which has received more than $1.5 billion--including $440 million in 2012 alone--to provide phones to 3.9 million recipients. TracFone is owned by Mexican multibillionaire Carlos Slim Helu."
Taranto added: "You know what else is owned by Carlos Slim Helu? Let's ask the New York Times (in a "Media Decoder" blog post from 2011):"
Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican billionaire who is by some accounts the world's richest man, has added to his holdings in The New York Times Company.
In a regulatory filing Monday, Mr. Slim and members of his family said they had bought additional shares in the company, raising their ownership stake to just over 7 percent, or 10.6 million Class A shares. Previously the family owned just under 7 percent of the Class A shares.
Mr. Slim and his family hold warrants to buy nearly 16 million more shares, which would bring their holdings to 16 percent should they choose to execute them. The warrants expire in 2015.
Taranto wondered if anyone at the Times would care to connect the dots.