The proposed $85 billion merger of AT&T and Time Warner was in the spotlight on Capitol Hill Wednesday as the heads of the companies appeared at a Senate hearing where they were grilled over whether CNN would be able to maintain its independence if the merger went through.
“Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said he feared Time Warner’s cable news network would become a pro-Donald Trump outlet in order to win approval from the president-elect’s Department of Justice,” The New York Post reports.
“Trump, an outspoken critic of CNN due to what he has called its biased coverage of his presidential run, said on the campaign trail he was not in favor of the deal because it would result in ‘too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,'” the report notes.
Blumenthal sought assurances from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes that CNN’s independence would be retained.
The senator, who is a member of the subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy & Consumer Rights, asked Bewkes: “For a public official to use the blunt, heavy instrument of law enforcement to try to silence and change news coverage by a news department is abhorrent, would you agree?”
Bewkes said: “The independence of our journalism, we have always vigorously defended that and we will continue to defend it.”