Corporate Power Today
Let's abandon the libertarian world for a moment to consider the News industry in the US today. The US has two national newspapers (the NY Times and the Washington Post), or perhaps 2 1/2 if you include the Wall Street Journal, which doesn't really have fully national reporting nor editorial content. The WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, the NYT is controlled by the Ochs-Sulzberger family (though the largest shareholder is Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim), and the Washington Post is owned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Like other Murdoch news enterprises, the WSJ is predictably right-wing and pro-Trump. The WP and NYT are usually considered liberal and anti-Trump but both work hard at trying to be non-partisan - which is really hard when you are tying to report the truth. There is no significant leftist press in the US.
There are also three national News Television networks, Fox, owned by Murdoch, being hard right and pretty much a dedicated Trump propaganda site. MSNBC is probably the closest thing to a leftist news presence in the US (though very middle of the road by world standards) and definitely anti-Trump. CNN, the oldest and probably most complete news network, tries to be centrist but relentless hostility from Trump has pushed it into the anti-Trump camp.
All this is preface to the fact that AT&T is engaged in an attempted takeover of CNN's parent company, Time-Warner. Josh Marshall takes a hard look the process and the implications, especially in the light of some remarks by Trump confidant Roger Stone:
AT&T is currently trying to finalize an $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. It’s actually behind schedule. But not to worry. The companies say they are extending their deadline “for a short period of time to facilitate obtaining final regulatory approval required to close the merger.”
AT&T needs the Justice Department’s approval for that deal. Normally, that decision would be housed off at the Antitrust Division at the Justice Department. But no one thinks that’s how it works in the Trump Administration. AT&T needs Donald Trump’s sign off, possibly mediated through the hand of Jeff Sessions but maybe not. Indeed, there has already been quite a bit of concern on Capitol Hill that Trump would try to hold up the AT&T deal as a way to exert pressure on Time Warner?
Why would the President want to pressure Time Warner? Because Time Warner owns CNN. And the White House has already put out word that it wanted to use the deal as a way to place pressure on CNN to rein in its coverage. Senators have pressed the administration to make the decision purely on legitimate antitrust grounds. Finalizing the deal has gone over schedule. It’s been suggested that to help move things along AT&T might suggest (or perhaps already has suggested) that it will rein in the “fake news” at CNN as a way to get President Trump to Yes.
Last night, as CNN’s breaking news about a Mueller indictment was rippling across the interwebs, Roger Stone went on a Twitter tirade ranting at various people. One Tweet thought was quite specific.
When AT&T aquires Time Warner the house cleaning at CNN of human excrement like @donlemon @jaketapper & dumbfuck @ananavarro will be swift
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) October 28, 2017