Trump says US needs ‘many news outlets’ amid rumored CNN sale

Trump says US needs ‘many news outlets’ amid rumored CNN sale
© Greg Nash

President Trump on Saturday said that the U.S. needs as “many news outlets as you can” get in the face of the rumored sale of news network CNN.

"I do feel you should have as many news outlets as you can — especially since so many are fake,” he told reporters on Air Force One.

He was responding to tense negotiations over AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner.

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Reports conflicted this week about whether AT&T and Time Warner are being asked to sell CNN as part of the merger, in order to avoid monopoly regulations. CNN is part of Turner Broadcasting, which is owned by Time Warner.

Department of Justice (DOJ) and AT&T sources said the DOJ was mandating the sale, but the Justice Department denied it. AT&T was also rumored to have offered to part with CNN in order to secure the merger, but the company’s CEO said publicly that selling CNN is off the table.

The corporate negotiations are political in part because Trump frequently calls out CNN as “fake news.” Some critics alleged Trump could be seeking to retaliate against the network by interfering in a Justice Department decision regarding the $85 billion merger.

The head of the DOJ’s antitrust division denied that the White House is involved in the transaction.

“I have never been instructed by the White House on this or any other transaction under review by the antitrust division," Makan Delrahim said in a statement Thursday.

“The president did not speak with the attorney general about this matter, and no White House official was authorized to speak with the Department of Justice on this matter,” said White House spokesman Raj Shah.

Trump on Saturday also maintained he had not been involved.

“Well I didn’t make that decision — it was made by a man who’s a very respected person, a very very respected person,” Trump added. “That probably ends up being litigation; maybe not. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Trump vowed on the campaign trail last year to block the merger because “it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”