CNN anchor Brian Stelter used part of a contentious interview with the White House’s Kellyanne Conway to question President Donald Trump’s involvement with the Justice Department’s review of the AT&T/Time Warner merger.
During the interview, Stelter pointed out recent reports that the DOJ is weighing a lawsuit to block the deal and asked Conway if Trump has been involved or influenced the review at all.
“The Department of Justice and the different departments within the Department of Justice who look at merger deals will do their work. We’re not going to interfere with that here,” Conway said. She also appeared to jab at Stelter and CNN, saying how she could understand how he and his colleagues could be nervous about another merger. That comment was likely in reference to AOL’s 2000 merger with Time Warner that lead to 2,000 job cuts at the media company.
Stelter said that Trump promised during the campaign to block the merger and asked if Trump still opposed the deal. Conway replied that she had not recently spoken about that deal nor the Sinclair/Tribune deal with Trump.
Trump has long made his animosity toward CNN clear, often accusing the news network of publishing “fake news.” Earlier this year, reports suggested that Trump could use the proposed $85 billion AT&T/Time Warner deal as a means of pushing CNN to let go of its chief Jeff Zucker.
The beef between Trump and CNN seemed to have cooled off a bit in the interim but reports of a potential DOJ suit to block the deal seems to have rekindled the conflict.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Justice Department officials are preparing for litigation in the event the agency can’t reach settlement terms in its antitrust review of the transaction. The report indicates the Justice Department could go either way on the deal but that the companies are not yet close to terms.