Brian Stelter Says There’s ‘Significant’ Evidence Trump Wanted ‘to Punish AT&T for Owning CNN’ | Video

“So you can imagine the ways Trump could try to turn the screws” if he wins in 2024, Stelter tells MSNBC’s Chris Hayes

On Wednesday, Chris Hayes expressed serious concern about Donald Trump’s increasingly open dvows to actively harm media outlets that publish accurate information about him should he win reelection. And to that end he spoke to former CNN reporter Brian Stelter, who confirmed that it was something Trump wanted to do the last time he was in office.

“There is a significant amount of evidence that Donald Trump, behind the scenes, was trying to punish AT&T for owning CNN,” Stelter told the MSNBC host. Watch the full clip above.

Hayes began by discussing Trump’s deranged call on Wednesday for the U.S. goverment to ‘punish’ MSNBC. In a post to his Twitter clone, Truth Social, Trump said, “MSNBC (MSDNC) uses FREE government approved airwaves, and yet it is nothing but a 24 hour hit job on Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE. It is the world’s biggest political contribution to the Radical Left Democrats who, by the way, are destroying our Country. Our so-called ‘government’ should come down hard on them and make them pay for their illegal political activity. Much more to come, watch!”

Of course, the statement is full of falsehoods, starting with the fact that MSNBC is a cable channel, doesn’t use airwaves, and therefore isn’t subject to FCC content regulations, nor is “illegal political activity” a thing when it comes to news media. And that’s in addition to Trump demanding the government suppress free speech.

Hayes got into some of that after reading that statement on air, noting that Trump “misunderstands the difference between broadcast and cable” and “attacks the CEO of our parent company.”

“Now, these attacks are not new territory for Trump. It’s easy to get bored with his whining. I certainly am. But,” Hayes continued, “he’s telling you what he wants to do. It’s a man who wants to take power back telling you what his policy on news organizations he doesn’t like is. He is very clear with his intent: ‘Our so called government should come down on them hard and make them pay for their illegal political activity.’”

“And here’s the thing: Yes, we have a First Amendment. Yes, we got checks and balances. But with a determined enough government and the right henchmen in place, do you think for a moment that Trump’s whining cannot turn into real punitive action?” Hayes continued, at which point he introduced Stelter, where he drew parallels to what Trump said about MSNBC to how Trump acted toward CNN during his administration.

Hayes specifically brought up how Trump ordered his DoJ to attempt to block the merger between AT&T and Time Warner, which at the time owned CNN.

“I worked at CNN at the time,” Stelter said. “Before election year 2016, Donald Trump said on the campaign trail that he would try to stop the deal from happening, to stop AT&T from buying Time Warner. And then once he was elected, and once a deal was progressing through this, in the process of the government regulatory system, the Trump DOJ tried to block it.”

Stelter noted that in the end, Trump’s efforts failed, and the merger went through. but, ” but at great cost. It delayed AT&T’s battle against Netflix in the streaming wars. And the broader point is that there is a significant amount of evidence that Donald Trump, behind the scenes, was trying to punish a TMT for owning CNN.”

After further discussion of this issue, including examples from endangered Democracies such as Turkey where the levers of government and regulation are used to essentially bankrupt opposition media, Stelter said, “So you can imagine the ways Trump could try to turn the screws. It’s not just Comcast… On one level, Trump’s posts, it’s just the weather right? It’s storming today, it’ll be sunny tomorrow. There’ll be a new rant about someone else tomorrow.”

“Or another level though, it’s a severe thunderstorm warning. It’s a warning about what he will do if he regains power. And that’s why I think it’s more notable than when he was in power and tried to punish AT&T. Or when he was in power and tried to punish the Washington Post owner, Jeff Bezos,” Stelter continued.

“Because back then he would tweet and say ‘what we thought at MIT’boycott AT&T,’ and nobody would care, the stock would go up that day. It was meaningless, but this time, it’s a campaign promise he’s making to his voters.”

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