Trump Urges Mass Boycott of AT&T to Punish CNN - 2019-06-03
While traveling abroad in the United Kingdom this week, Donald Trump was made aware of a distressing fact: with Fox News no longer broadcasting in Britain, where the Murdoch-owned network received abysmal ratings, the "primary" American news-channel broadcast across the pond is CNN. "After watching it for a short while, I turned it off," the president tweeted Monday. "All negative & so much Fake News, very bad for U.S. Big ratings drop. Why doesn't owner @ATT do something?" Trump followed up with a suggestion for those who, like him, wish to see CNN beaten into submission: a consumer boycott of an American company that employs more than a quarter million people.
"I believe that if people stoped [sic] using or subscribing to @ATT, they would be forced to make big changes at @CNN, which is dying in the ratings anyway," he wrote. "It is so unfair with such bad, Fake News! Why wouldn't they act. When the World watches @CNN, it gets a false picture of USA. Sad!"
Setting aside whether it is appropriate for the U.S. president to encourage economic retaliation against a U.S. telecom for the politics of one of its subsidiaries—and, let's be clear, it is not—the effort would appear futile. For one thing, AT&T is among the world's largest telecommunications companies. It owns a substantial market share of wireless services, in addition to DirecTV, and recently purchased CNN's parent company, Time Warner—a conglomerate that includes HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner Broadcasting. Because cable companies rarely attempt to compete with each other, the United States is dominated by a small number of local and regional cable monopolies—including AT&T, which dominates much of the South.