Will It Soon Be CNN’s Time in the Barrel?

Roger Stone
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

We know President Trump’s confidante Roger Stone is intemperate and aggressive. We also know he often blurts things out that end up being accurate or highly prescient. On August 21st, 2016, Stone tweeted: “Trust me, it will soon [be] Podesta’s time in the barrel.” A few weeks later (Oct. 7th, 2016), that’s just what happened. Wikileaks, with whom Stone had been in active and direct contact, began releasing thousands of Podesta’s stolen emails.

That’s not all we know.

AT&T is currently trying to finalize an $86 billion acquisition of Time Warner. It’s actually behind schedule.  But not to worry. The companies say they are extending their deadline “for a short period of time to facilitate obtaining final regulatory approval required to close the merger.”

AT&T needs the Justice Department’s approval for that deal. Normally, that decision would be housed off at the Antitrust Division at the Justice Department. But no one thinks that’s how it works in the Trump Administration. AT&T needs Donald Trump’s sign off, possibly mediated through the hand of Jeff Sessions but maybe not. Indeed, there has already been quite a bit of concern on Capitol Hill that Trump would try to hold up the AT&T deal as a way to exert pressure on Time Warner?

Why would the President want to pressure Time Warner? Because Time Warner owns CNN. And the White House has already put out word that it wanted to use the deal as a way to place pressure on CNN to rein in its coverage. Senators have pressed the administration to make the decision purely on legitimate antitrust grounds. Finalizing the deal has gone over schedule. It’s been suggested that to help move things along AT&T might suggest (or perhaps already has suggested) that it will rein in the “fake news” at CNN as a way to get President Trump to Yes.

Last night, as CNN’s breaking news about a Mueller indictment was rippling across the interwebs, Roger Stone went on a Twitter tirade ranting at various people. One Tweet thought was quite specific.

Obviously, Roger Stone can rant and wish all he wants. He was in a splutter and a rage. How can he know what AT&T is going to do. But let’s go back to one more thing we know. Roger Stone still regularly talks to President Trump. Is that what President Trump told Stone? That AT&T promised they’ll ‘clean house’ at CNN?

Yes, I agree, a few links in the chain of this hypothetical. But is it even plausible that Donald Trump wouldn’t try to use such an opportunity to at least squeeze one of his arch-wrestling match enemies? Hardly. It’s exactly the kind of thing that would get Trump and Stone giddy and bloody-minded. It’s totally Stone’s kind of thing; and Trump’s too. Someone should start asking some questions. Start at DOJ and in the C-Suite at AT&T.

Do I think AT&T will try to gut CNN? I have no idea. But is Trump pushing for it and grousing and gossiping about it with Roger Stone? I’d say that’s a pretty good bet. And given he’s the President of the United States … well, you know how that sentence ends.

Latest Editors' Blog
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: