Kushner Suggests Firing CNN Staff Over 'Wrong' Election Coverage
Kushner Suggests Firing CNN Staff Over 'Wrong' Election Coverage
Rupert Murdoch 'interested in buying CNN' after reports Trump administration may force AT&T to sell it
11 November, 2017, 11:44
Amid a Department of Justice halt of a proposed AT&T and Time Warner merger - and speculation White House tensions with CNN are at the root of the snag - The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that senior adviser Jared Kushner told a top Time Warner executive CNN should fire 20 percent of its staff because of its presidential election miscalculations.
Mr. Stephenson said at a business conference Thursday that he had no interest in selling CNN and no reason to suspect the Trump administration was meddling with the department's work on the deal.
The White House has said Trump has not spoken to the attorney general about the matter.
Time Warner headquarters in New York City.
The new concessions suggest the Justice Department's antitrust chief Delrahim has changed his view of AT&T's plan to buy Time Warner, since giving an interview in 2016 where he declared it not "a major antitrust problem".
AT&T announced its acquisition of Time Warner more than a year ago. DOJ also released a statement from Makan Delrahim, the department's new antitrust chief, in which Delrahim said he has "never been instructed by the White House on this or any other transaction under review by the antitrust division". Stephenson, however, made it clear that AT&T was prepared to fight attempts to block the deal. Shares of Time Warner closed down 6.5 percent at $88.50.
Stephens reiterated confidence in the deal, saying "these types of mergers bring great benefit to customers and have very routinely been approved by the DOJ and the federal government".
AT&T hopes to benefit from marrying all of Time Warner's assets to its own. Last year, before he was nominated by Trump to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division, Delrahim said AT&T's deal "would have an easier route toward approval than a merger of two competitors". It would then supply its video - HBO, CNN, TBS and the Warner Bros. movie studio - while providing access to the internet for millions of Americans. Several Democratic lawmakers have also pushed back against the combination.
USA antitrust regulators and AT&T Inc sparred on Wednesday over whether the wireless carrier would be required to sell Time Warner Inc's CNN cable network as a condition of approval of its deal to buy the media company.
Being forced to sell off Turner is probably a "nonstarter" for AT&T, New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin said. "It's time to settle, or it's time to go to court", he said.
But sources said talks between the government and AT&T are ongoing in the hopes that an agreement can be reached.
"The Department is committed to carrying out its duties in accordance with the laws and the facts", the agency said.
Until recently the vertical deal - which in theory should not reduce competition among the two companies' direct rivals - was considered by antitrust experts as likely to be approved with no major concessions.
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