News

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
adam schiff, antitrust, congress, doj, mergers, politics

Companies:
at&t, time warner



House To Investigate Whether DOJ's AT&T Antitrust Lawsuit Was Political

from the do-not-pass-go,-do-not-collect-$200 dept

When the Trump DOJ sued to stop AT&T's $89 billion merger with Time Warner last year, more than a few eyebrows were raised. After all, the DOJ's antitrust suit, allegedly a bid to protect consumers, came as other arms of the Trump administration were busy utterly dismantling a wide variety of popular consumer protections (like net neutrality) at the direct request of industry. It raised the question: why suddenly care about consumer protection and antitrust power when you've shown absolutely no general concern for those concepts previously?

As a result, there's always been a lingering question as to whether Trump's obvious disdain for Time Warner owned CNN was driving a petty bid for vengeance. Others wondered if the DOJ's lawsuit was a personal favor to Trump ally Rupert Murdoch, who had tried unsuccessfully to buy CNN from AT&T at least twice, and had spent much of 2017 lobbying Trump to scuttle the deal as a competitive favor to his Fox empire.

With a shakeup in the House, those questions could soon again be making headlines. Incoming House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff told Axios last weekend that one of the numerous things the new House leadership will investigate is whether the DOJ's antitrust lawsuit against AT&T was political:

"Schiff said Congress also needs to examine whether Trump attempted to block AT&T’s merger with Time Warner as payback to CNN.

"We don't know, for example, whether the effort to hold up the merger of the parent of CNN was a concern over antitrust or whether this was an effort merely to punish CNN," Schiff said.

To be clear, AT&T's monopoly power is clearly a problem and, regardless of the motivation, it's a good thing the DOJ tried to stop it.

AT&T's domination of both fixed broadband, wireless broadband, and its monopoly over the backhaul connections feeding everything from cellular towers to ATMs was already causing headaches. The company's expanded ownership of "must have" media properties only made things worse by causing new anti-competitive problems for competitors like Dish. Combine these with the death of net neutrality, AT&T's past behaviors, and the FCC's fresh inability to hold AT&T accountable for any of it -- and the over-arching market issues should be pretty clear.

Ultimately the DOJ lost its case for several reasons. Antitrust laws weakened after decades of lobbying left the DOJ arguing obvious outcomes (like AT&T raising rates on competitors and consumers) within narrow confines of economic theory. And because the DOJ didn't want to highlight the fact the Trump admin was harming these same consumers with its other hand (net neutrality), it simply avoided mentioning the idea at all. That's an obvious issue since AT&T's domination of both the media and its broadband monopoly will work synergistically to harm competitors and consumers alike.

Regardless, the Trump DOJ suddenly and exclusively caring about AT&T's monopoly power was always curious. And while many will be sure to suggest that any investigation of the motivation is itself political, it's a question that would be nice to have answered all the same -- since using "instruments of state power" like the DOJ to settle petty grievances with media outlets you don't like is kind of a fucking problem.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 6:45am

    state power abuses

    " -- since using "instruments of state power" like the DOJ to settle petty grievances with media outlets you don't like is kind of a fu**ing problem. "



    so the core/summary issue presented here is not really AT&T or Trump -- it's general abuse of government power.
    Odd to see the libertarian view as a primary post here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 7:22am

      Re: state power abuses

      ...there are 3 other stories about abuse of government power just on the first two pages...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 7:23am

        Re: Re: state power abuses

        Sounds like some in government are abusing their power ... no?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 7:48am

          Re: Re: Re: state power abuses

          the "some bad apples" excuse is the normal defense of government malfeasance.
          Alternative view is that malfeasance is inherent in the fundamental structure of government, as some people are granted discretionary power to command other people. Power Corrupts.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 7:22am

      Re: state power abuses

      No, I don't think so - could it be the issue is abuse of government power by Mr Trump? iirc, that is not allowed.

      The last time I got a speeding ticket, I did not go to court and claim that it is the fault of the vehicle manufacturer for allowing such behavior ... because that would be crazy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 7:29am

      Re: state power abuses

      ah yes... the site that is all about dumb overreaching government regulations (Copyright, Trademark, Patents) and only supporting regulations in cases to deal with deeper seeded dumb government regulations (net neutrality because of fuckery with no real competition for ISPs) is making a post against... abuse about government power and this is odd and surprising to you because... you are just a dumb troll?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 7:38am

      Re: state power abuses

      Odd to see the libertarian view as a primary post here.

      I wasn't aware that "the government should prevent massive corporate mergers, just not to settle petty personal grudges" was the Libertarian view. Maybe there's just not enough paint in my diet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Patinibesle.com, 14 Nov 2018 @ 6:54am

    Kedi maması ve köpek maması

    kedi maması ve köpek maması
    https://patinibesle.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 7:04am

    kind of a fucking problem.

    Depends on which "team" you align with. Go team!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 7:25am

      Re: kind of a fucking problem.

      Well - it is bad for everyone in the long term, but some can not see that far.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        mcinsand, 14 Nov 2018 @ 9:03am

        like gerrymandering

        When I was growing up, Democrats in my state had the advantage, and gerrymandering played a role. They saw no problem with it, though, until Republicans came into power and then started gerrymandering. Republicans used to complain about the practice, but not anymore. No doubt the Democrats will be find with it again if they wrest power back.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 9:18am

          Re: like gerrymandering

          Which is why in Michigan one of the proposals that passed was for a non-partisan entity to be in charge of voting districts, as opposed to the party in power.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 9:25am

            Re: Re: like gerrymandering

            Do away with districts and the electoral college in general. It would go a long way toward removing corruption from the election system.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Thad (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 9:54am

              Re: Re: Re: like gerrymandering

              Getting rid of the EC would require a constitutional amendment; don't expect it to happen any time soon (though I agree that we should).

              Not sure how we'd handle the House without districts. Elect every House seat on an at-large basis?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 11:36am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: like gerrymandering

                By county and population?

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Thad (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 12:15pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: like gerrymandering

                  I'm going to guess you're from somewhere back east.

                  I'm in Arizona. We've got 15 counties with wildly disparate populations and politics. Dividing our representation up by county would be at least as bad as gerrymandering it, and considerably worse than the independent redistricting system we have now. And that's before we even get into solving disparities like, say, having almost 1/3 of the population of Florida but less than 1/4 as many counties.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 1:18pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: like gerrymandering

                    Thus "and population". I'm suggesting that we have representatives by population who represent a specific county. This is little different than the political districts we have today only county lines don't change -- no more gerrymandering.

                    Hell, skip the counties and just have n representatives per state based on population.

                    Also, fwiw, I'm on the west coast. Not that I think that matters.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                    • icon
                      Thad (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 1:41pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: like gerrymandering

                      This is little different than the political districts we have today only county lines don't change -- no more gerrymandering.

                      And no more fixing boundaries that don't accurately represent demographics, just as if they were gerrymandered.

                      Hell, skip the counties and just have n representatives per state based on population.

                      So...on an at-large basis, then, like I said in the first place?

                      Also, fwiw, I'm on the west coast.

                      Then you should have a better understanding of how large and demographically-diverse a county can be.

                      I live in a state where most of the population is in a single county, and that county skews conservative but has several population centers within it that are very liberal. You're suggesting that my liberal district should not exist and our representatives should be picked at the county level. This would significantly change my representation, and skew it in a political direction that does not adequately represent the diverse political views within the county.

                      You do not seem to have thought this through.

                      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Thad (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 9:52am

            Re: Re: like gerrymandering

            We've got independent redistricting in Arizona. Every state should have it.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    suezz, 14 Nov 2018 @ 9:46am

    Att needs to be broken up again and permanently. The control they have is unprecedented. They should of never allowed SBC to buy back all the baby bells. All it did was cost jobs and kill the economy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    HegemonicDistortion (profile), 14 Nov 2018 @ 10:50am

    Is this really the look the Democrats want, upon finally re-capturing a bit of power, to go caping for AT&T in the House of Representatives? It's [stuff] like this that makes people think maybe they're another corporate party or something.

    A poor look especially for Schiff, whose top contributor in 2017-2018 was AT&T ($27k).
    https://www.opensecrets.org/members-of-congress/summary?cid=N00009585

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Nov 2018 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      I don't think any politician is interested in how anything looks outside of an election cycle. And they know the public's attention span rivals that of a fish -- all will be forgotten by the time the next election comes around.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    busy idle 123, 4 Dec 2018 @ 3:09pm

    Please read the verdict of Judge Leon. You have written a very bad article. The media landscape has changed. What you have written was applicable in 2000, not in 2018.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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