President Donald Trump on Monday called for a boycott of AT&T to force “big changes” at subsidiary CNN, which Trump often accuses of biased and negative coverage of his administration.
“I believe that if people stoped using or subscribing to @ATT, they would be forced to make big changes at @CNN, which is dying in the ratings anyway. It is so unfair with such bad, Fake News!” the president tweeted from the U.K., just as he began a state visit, misspelling “stopped.”
Representatives for AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment. CNN has previously pushed back on Trump’s criticism. In a November 2017 tweet to the president, the network said: “It’s not CNN’s job to represent the U.S to the world. That’s yours.”
Trump has frequently attacked CNN’s coverage of him, dating to his time as a presidential candidate. On the campaign trail in 2016, he vowed to block AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner, which included CNN among its most prominent assets.
Indeed, the Trump Justice Department did challenge the blockbuster $85.4 billion deal. A federal judge had ruled last June that the merger was legal, but the DOJ appealed the next month, after the deal officially closed. Then, in February, a federal judge again ruled in AT&T’s favor and the Justice Department let the matter go.
However, House Democrats are looking into whether Trump told his one-time top economic advisor Gary Cohn to use the Justice Department to block the AT&T-Time Warner deal. The White House in April denied lawmakers’ request for documents that might show whether Trump sought to intervene in the acquisition.
The Justice Department’s antitrust head said in 2018 that he never received orders, instructions or directions regarding the AT&T-Time Warner deal from Trump, White House officials or other DOJ officials.