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Trump bashes the media, but his administration adores their big mergers. Here’s why


IT WAS MID-AUTUMN last year, and the presidential campaign was ending. That’s usually the time when major party nominees hone their message as they try to rally their core voters and sway the few undecided. But on October 22, Donald Trump devoted one of his precious remaining speech opportunities to a topic he’d hit on before but never to such a degree: big media companies and why they need to be broken up through antitrust laws. Sure, attacking the media is regular shtick for Trump, a former TV star who recently tweeted a doctored video of him pummeling a pro wrestling executive with the CNN logo affixed to his head. But generally his tantrums and tirades are about how the media is full of “losers” or is “unfair” or “failing”—in short, not incredibly powerful.

“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 in the hands of too few,” Trump said in October 2016 of the proposed $85 billion merger that had just been announced. That union, which is still pending, would combine the grandchild of Ma Bell with the parent company of such marquee brands as CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. studios. It’s the biggest media merger of the moment but hardly unique as telecom companies try to get more content, whether it’s an hour of Wolf Blitzer or Game of Thrones. Similarly, this spring telephone giant Verizon completed its $4.8 billion purchase of Yahoo after grabbing AOL for $4.5 billion in 2015.

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