President Donald Trump's disdain for CNN could have consequences that reach far beyond negative internet memes and social-media rants from the Oval Office.
Trump's enduring animus toward the news network is reportedly seen as a "wild card" within the White House amid a pending $85 billion merger between CNN's parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T, The New York Times reported Wednesday night, citing an unnamed senior administration official.
The US Justice Department is deliberating over the merger. It is the only federal agency reviewing the deal, according to a June 27 report from the television-industry trade publication Broadcast & Cable, which also reported Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine had concerns about the deal that were not related to Trump or CNN specifically.
Separately, Senate Democrats have taken issue with the merger. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota was one of several lawmakers who signed a letter to the Justice Department asking it to squash the deal if it finds that the downsides outweigh the benefits to consumers.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Richard Blumenthal, Maria Cantwell, and Cory Booker also signed the letter, as well as Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont.
For his part, CNN president Jeff Zucker said the Time Warner-AT&T deal is not a factor in his daily journalistic and management decisions. "It's not something I think about,” he said.
It is unclear whether the Trump administration may seek to influence the Justice Department's deliberations on the merger, but The Times reported that White House advisers have discussed the deal as "a potential point of leverage."
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