Rupert Murdoch twice discussed CNN with AT&T CEO

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Kushner told Time Warner executive Gary Ginsberg that CNN should fire the employees because they were so wrong in their analysis of how the election would turn out, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter. And it caused some Democratic lawmakers to raise new concerns about White House interference in the Justice Department.

Instead, the Trump administration DOJ plans to use the merger as a weapon against one the president's least favorite news organizations - Time Warner's CNN. The agency has a decades-long history of approving similar deals, including the merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal in 2011. AT&T can deliver this video over the internet, including its cellular network.

AT&T may be forced to dump CNN for the U.S. regulators to allow its proposed takeover of Time Warner to go through.

He also seemed to challenge one of AT&T's arguments in favor of the transaction: that it now faces a competition landscape made up of large Silicon Valley companies.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that the DOJ had told AT&T officials that they would like the company to divest DirecTV or Time Warner's Turner networks to secure approval.

Another source said Murdoch had "zero interest" in owning CNN. AT&T wasn't interested in doing so. And, she said, it would likely point to President Donald Trump's frequent tweets and criticisms of CNN, saying the Justice Department's stance appears political. The White House has said Trump has not spoken to the attorney general about the matter. Trump was apparently referring to Makan Delrahim, the chief of the Justice Department's antitrust division.

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AT&T has argued against selling off either company's assets, as it believes this would undercut the rationale for the tie-up.

But even the perception of White House involvement could influence the deal-review process.

Other sources say the DOJ indicated that a divestiture of CNN would not be sufficient to make sure the deal doesn't hurt consumers. "For me it would be virtually impossible to not take that into account".

"We are in active discussions with the DOJ", John J. Stephens, chief financial officer for AT&T, said at a Wells Fargo conference. Stephenson was responding on a question on whether he would consider selling Turner or HBO.

The US President's senior adviser Jared Kushner has reportedly filed multiple complaints to CNN regarding the broadcaster's coverage of the US election in 2016.

It's also unlikely AT&T will agree to sell or spin off DirecTV, Barclays analysts wrote Thursday.