The Justice Department’s scrutiny of the AT&T / Time Warner merger is taking on the tone of a vendetta.
Via TPM, the Financial Times is reporting that in order for the merger to go through, Time Warner has to divest itself of CNN.
The sale of CNN, which President Donald Trump has fiercely criticised as a broadcaster of “fake news”, is just one of the demands being made by the US antitrust authority in order to sign off on the deal, those involved in the talks said. But it could prove a stumbling block.
AT&T is opposed to selling the TV network and is preparing to take the Trump administration to court, arguing the deal with Time Warner does not pose any competition violations.
“It’s all about CNN,” said one person with direct knowledge of the talks between the company and the DOJ, adding that the regulator made it clear to AT&T that if it sold CNN the deal would go through.
CNN has been a favorite target of Trump and throughout his campaign and his time in office he’s complained about “fake news” because the network is reporting things he doesn’t like about his administration and the Russian investigation.
This is how dictators operate. Lesson 1 is get control of the message and the messengers, and intimidate or eliminate those who don’t comply with your wishes. Brand them as traitors and enemies of the state. Trump’s already done that, and now he’s trying to interfere with one outlet’s business. It wouldn’t surprise me if the DOJ made selling CNN to Fox a condition of the merger. Those people know how to really report the news.