New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer published a blistering report on the lack of a line between the White House and Fox News. The shocking expose revealed coordination between the network and communications staff as well as the president himself. But one thing Mayer pointed to was his involvement in the CNN/AT&T merger. She warned that if investigators looked into this, she suspected more would be there.
"It's an example of a pattern that you can see, which is that many decisions that have to do with regulatory matters seem to favor Fox News and its chairman Rupert Murdoch," Mayer told NPR's Terry Gross. "And that was one of the deals that took place that seemed to favor Rupert Murdoch."
Because Time Warner owns CNN and Fox News is a rival, the network had a vested interest in the merger not going through.
Trump tried to get involved in the merger, saying that it should be blocked from moving forward.
The president ordered Gary Cohn, then-head of the National Economic Council, to get the Justice Department to file a suit to stop the deal.
Sources told Mayer that Trump ordered, "Block that deal. I want it blocked. I've told you 50 times. We need to get that suit filed." Cohn told chief of staff John Kelly not to do it because "it is not how we're going to do business." That said, months later, the Justice Department did exactly what Trump ordered.
"So, you could see that the president was actually trying to interfere in the Justice Department's decision about one of the biggest deals involving billion-dollar companies that have to do with news organizations," Mayer said.
She noted that an investigation into the CNN/AT&T merger and the DOJ's involvement in it could be "very interesting."
"It's hard, as a reporter, to ferret out all the information, but my sense is they would find that there's more there," Mayer said. "This particular anecdote that I was able to get, that captures Trump ordering somebody ... very high up in this administration to block the deal and get the Justice Department to get in is in itself quite eye-opening and an abuse of power, I think many would say. But if, in fact, it affected what the Justice Department did, and influenced it, I think it's an incredibly serious matter."
She noted that Fox News clearly isn't a regular news organization.
"What its critics say is that Fox is an arm of the White House. It's a mouthpiece for Trump," she said.