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Trump says mergers like AT&T/Time Warner ‘destroy democracy’

Kenneth Corbin | Dec. 12, 2016
Trump has vowed to block the $85 billion mega-merger of AT&T/Time Warner, but the heads of the telecom and media giants argue that the antitrust review will show the deal to be pro-competitive and pro-consumer.

Trump is very vocal in his opposition of the merger

"Speaking very bluntly, what I think, what any of my colleagues think, may make no difference whatsoever, because Donald Trump has said he's going to block this merger, and I take him at his word." Laughter could be heard from some of the members and staffers. "Why?" Blumenthal deadpanned.

In October, after the deal was announced, Trump said in a speech:

"As an example of the power structure I'm fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power."

Trump went on in that speech to criticize what he called Amazon's failure to pay "massive taxes" and cited the retailer's ownership's association with The Washington Post (Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos bought the Post through his private investment company), as well as Comcast's purchase of NBC, which among recent mergers perhaps most closely resembles the AT&T/Time Warner deal.

"Comcast's purchase of NBC concentrates far too much power in one massive entity that is trying to tell the voters what to think and what to do," Trump said in October. "Deals like this destroy democracy, and we'll look at breaking that deal up and other deals like that. This should never ever haven been approved in the first place."

Blumenthal, who identified himself "a strong supporter of antitrust enforcement," called Trump's comments on the concentration of power within a combined AT&T/Time Warner "a classic antitrust analysis" and an area where he and the president-elect might find common ground.

But he also said that he is alarmed by Trump's tendency to interject his dismay over what he perceives as hostile media coverage into discussions of corporate transactions involving outlets like NBC, the Post or Time Warner's CNN.

 

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