Hollywood stars may no longer want to be treated like they are in a petting zoo during the annual White House Correspondents Dinner weekend, but the rapid rise of the tech industry – and its lobbyists in Washington, D.C. – has made more than enough Silicon Valley executives want to try to fill Hollywood’s shoes and make the annual dinner truly a “Nerd Prom.”
As Facebook and Google compete for space with the likes of Vanity Fair and Bloomberg on the D.C. hobnobbing circuit, their representatives are using their newfound “status” as the new oligarchs to influence politicians, policymakers, and regulators.
According to the inside-the-beltway Politico, “Google, Facebook and Yahoo are planning parties, panels and more,” and “their presence during the town’s closest approximation of a red carpet reflects the industry’s new embrace of the old ways of doing business in the Beltway – a place where lobbyists and executives, for better or worse, long have wined and dined their regulators.”
Google is planning another dinner while Yahoo and its CEO Marissa Mayer, described as a “top fundraiser” for Obama, will hold “brunch and other events.” Tumblr will have a presence; so will Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, which will partner with BuzzFeed for an event. These events are reflective of how the tech industry is influencing D.C.’s bipartisan permanent political class to get favorable policy results:
Google now ranks as one of Washington’s top spenders, with more than $3 million in lobbying expenses in the first three months of this year and a new office on Pennsylvania Avenue soon to open. Facebook has new digs and racks up lobbying expenses into the millions, all under the leadership of Joel Kaplan, who worked in George W. Bush’s White House. And Yahoo is in the midst of a business and political transformation, thanks to its new CEO. Mayer, a former Google executive, is a major political force who helped bundle thousands of dollars for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. She’s set to host another California fundraiser for Democrats this May.
Google will reportedly team up with Netflix for an event and have executives sitting with Politico reporters at the dinner. Google will also host an event on Georgetown on beauty and makeup for a town sometimes known as “Hollywood for ugly people.”
Yahoo, which will hold a reception with ABC, will have six tables, and prominent guests will include everyone from Attorney General Eric Holder to Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley:
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO
Katie Couric, journalist
Bobbi Brown, Yahoo beauty editor
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley
David Karp, Tumblr CEO
Jon Huntsman, former Utah governor
Matt Olsen, National Counterterrorism Center director
Cody Keenan, assistant to the president and director of speechwriting
Kathy Ruemmler, assistant to the president and counsel to the president
Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general
Sam Kass, “Let’s Move” executive director
Microsoft will also reportedly partner with the “Motion Picture Association of America on Friday for its so-called Creativity Conference, where Vice President Joe Biden is speaking.” The company will have an event about new media, technology, and Hollywood at the Carnegie Library.
Though there is no proof that there is a shortage of American high-tech workers – and more proof that there is a surplus because wages are decreasing in the sector – the crown jewel for high-tech companies has been amnesty legislation that would give them more H1-B visas and guest-worker permits and allow them to import more foreign workers. Because of their close ties to the mainstream press, the tech industry has also gotten a pass from the mostly monochromatic Washington media elite they are wining and dining for their lack of women, blacks, and Latinos at their companies..
As James Pinkerton wrote at Breitbart News, “the historic pattern of American history is that every rising new industry creates a new class of politicians.” He noted that in the 19th century, it was the railroad industry. In the 20th century, it was Hollywood. And in the 21st century, it is now Silicon Valley’s turn.