President Donald Trump is not making it any easier for the Justice Department to make its antitrust case against the AT&T-Time Warner Inc. deal, continuing to tweet attacks on CNN, one of the assets in the deal.
AT&T is expected to use the president’s attacks, combined with his threat as a candidate to block the deal, to suggest it was the president’s opposition to a media outlet he dislikes getting potentially more powerful, rather than antitrust law, that drove the DOJ effort to get the compay to spin off programming assets like CNNor HBO, then to try to block the deal outright when AT&T declined to pare back those assets.
CNN currently runs second to Fox News Channel, a Trump favorite, in the cable news race.
The president, continuing a pattern of attacking CNN by name, tweeted last week:
“We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY.”
That trophy could turn out to be a booby prize for the tweeter-in chief if it continues to raise the issue of motive.
Related: Fox News Channel Would Get 'Fake News Trophy,' per Survey
Deal critics argue there are plenty of legitimate reasons for blocking the deal, but the president continues to inject himself into the conversation and, like his tweets about the immigration ban ultimately cited in court decisions against the administration, is doing DOJ no favors.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.