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Why is the Trump Administration opposed to the Time Warner merger?

The Department of Justice has decided to block an 85 billion dollar deal that would combine the country's largest telecommunications company with one of the…

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Becerra & Cabello duo

May 17th, 2022

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As if it were a murmured warning, the Washington Post tends to frame its news with a short phrase: "Democracy dies in Darkness" and few of us had realized it until President Trump began to make a habit of threats against the media.

"Fake News", "Losers" and dozens of attacks have undermined his comments on Twitter against CNN and the Washington Post mainly, although his objectives vary according to the critic in turn.

But nobody would believe that the presidential verbiage would go beyond the personification of a tycoon improved by an electoral accident until the Department of Justice announced its strong opposition to one of the most important telecommunications agreements in recent decades.

In the midst of a chaotic presidential competition that ran its last meters, the candidates made their positions very clear: Donald Trump said he would block the agreement to be elected, arguing without a hint of cynicism that "it’s a lot of power in the hands of a few" - an allegation that the president annuls now when it’s used against his famous Tax Reform, because when it comes to his interests, he is the most just of all.

For her part, the Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, said at the time that the AT&T agreement "raised questions and concerns." Legislators such as Tim Kaine (D-Va) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) warned that "media concentration" could bring benefits and consequences, although Sanders was much more critical, requesting the Obama Administration to stop the agreement.

In the same way, senators such as Elizabeth Warren, Al Franken, and Amy Klobuchar made clear their opposition to the matter, as reported by the Washington Post.

However, the president's positions when critics of his government are involved, have raised concerns that the Department of Justice's determination to block the agreement has to do with an economic attack against CNN.

Media like Esquire has defended AT&T, assuring that the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division would have as a hidden objective "to hurt CNN in retaliation for its harsh treatment of the Trump Administration".

The dilemma is clear: although the concentration of media power in a single telecommunications house is against competition and could annihilate independent platforms that have emerged in recent years (such as Amazon, Apple, Google or Netflix), the fact that could attack critical government media is perceived as a threat to the First Amendment and freedom of expression.

Attorney General Makam Delrahim, a representative of the Antitrust Division, said that this business could "seriously harm US consumers by increasing television bills," but AT&T general counsel David McAtee said that "vertical mergers of this type are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without dispatching any competitor in the market," The Guardian reported.

It will be necessary to discern now between the risk of the telecommunications market and the hidden strategies of a government that seems to threaten to silence its most arduous critics.

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