Increased Corporate Ties at CNN

Another AT&T merger is poised to reshuffle major media conglomerates again as streaming subscriptions compete for the attention of viewers who have left their screens for the outdoors.

On Monday, AT&T announced the plan to combine WarnerMedia entertainment and media company with Discovery Inc. — a deal that would create a streaming stronghold that would include more than a half-dozen top cable networks, including CNN, HBO, and the Warner Bros. studio.

These corporate-driven values have always been apparent at most major cable news outlets. CNN was one of the original and worst culprits in helping to elevate Trump’s 2016 Presidential Campaign with constant coverage that boosted ratings and ad buys.

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From the article titled: “CNN Had a Problem. Donald Trump Solved It,” published by The New York Times Magazine on April 4th, 2017:

“But then along came a presidential candidate who was a human breaking-news event. Trump provided drama and conflict every time he opened his mouth…Had Trump lost the election, CNN would probably have returned to its previously scheduled struggle for survival. Instead, it has become more central to the national conversation than at any point in the network’s history since the first gulf war…

…But CNN was the first major news organization to give Trump’s campaign prolonged and sustained attention…CNN [n]ever miss[ed] an opportunity to broadcast a Trump rally or speech…”

Below is an early Feb 2017 interview of then Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, who was trying to shill the premise that Trump was an honest man from the start. She explained to CNN and Jake Tapper that the administration had “a very high respect for the truth.” Conway also makes a comment that she didn’t believe CNN was “fake news,” and the following “news” chyron then appeared on-screen at CNN: “CONWAY: I DON’T THINK CNN IS FAKE NEWS.

As exasperated as news professionals conducting these CNN interviews appeared to be with their Trump guests, it only helped to confirm what most of America was feeling, and to sell more coverage. The network, like many others, did not stop inviting Trump supporters who would openly lie on-air, or really even bother to fact check them very often.

It was a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the Trump administration and CNN, disguised by the pretense that their frustration and outrage truly matched our own. Indeed news professionals at CNN may have been infuriated by the format, but there was no doubt that the network was being paid handsomely for their role.

The political climate has now shifted drastically based on the change in leadership and also thanks to the populace’s exhaustion level that was initiated by ongoing Trump fatigue and further bolstered by Covid-19. The pace of the news cycle has slowed so drastically — we can attest to that here at SHERO — and the burgeoning freedom from virus masks has made many get off of the terrifying news roller coaster and get some fresh air.

Perhaps the most apparent concern for viewers is the influence corporate agendas will further have on the viewer, specifically who will now be given airtime to appease the suits rather than the viewer. This was on full display yesterday as two company CEOs were given a segment of more than 15 minutes during a prime time slot hosted by Poppy Harlow to do an elongated pitch to the country as if it were the first day of new-hire orientation.

In the video above, you can watch the full “interview” and see that it does not appear well planned, and the host is not sure what is happening, either. If you get the sense that the CEOs from Discovery and AT&T are trying to sell you something, that’s because they are: the deal still has to be formally approved.

If approved by federal regulators, the new deal to merge streaming conglomerates, that would include rolling CNN into a yet-to-be-named Discovery-Warner company, is predicted to send billions of dollars flooding into the creation of new content, just as people are emerging from their homes and the year-long pandemic shutdown.

The impending deal also has the potential to reshape the film industry, which is in disrepair following the abandonment of movie theaters everywhere. This new conglomerate includes Warner Bros. Studios and HBO Max, both now streaming services that have been successful at releasing direct films to consumers at home during their scheduled theater release date.

There is a lot of money tied into this second AT&T merger: $43 billion. The move to reorganize again also shows a pretty clear abandonment of the mission tied into the 2018 Time Warner purchase, as the marriage of these two powerhouse companies is not pulling in enough subscribers. Everyone is now operating on subscription fees (insert wave here), and several industries have been inundated with these pay-for-access services. This is creating an oversaturated market of people who are managing cabin fever, too many subscriptions, and some glorious weather.

This new media conglomerate will now be able to invest more heavily in 5G technology, while the subscription services do the heavy lifting and keep drawing revenue. While it appears as though CNN is just a smaller pawn in this overall current merger, it is a powerful one that has previously caught other opponents off guard.

CNN was instrumental in putting Donald Trump in the White House due to the way they covered him and the amount of airtime that was given. As news networks continued to feed the public appetite for all things Trump, by turning the news into a never-ending daily Real Housewives of the White House reality show, CNN was a major player in this strategy.

Whether they are the driving force behind this next AT&T redux merger, one thing remains clear — CNN still holds the power to help sway a presidential election, which is very profitable. The network helped to do it before and now has a lot of incentive to do it again.


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Amee Vanderpool writes the SHERO Newsletter and is an attorney, published author, contributor to newspapers and magazines, and analyst for BBC radio. She can be reached at avanderpool@gmail.com or follow her on Twitter @girlsreallyrule.

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