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Manafort Indictment Good News for CNN, Time Warner, AT&T

As Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, was being booked at the Washington headquarters of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Monday, Oct. 30, Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX - Get Report) CNN was doing what it's been doing for months: focusing on the possibility that the Republican president colluded with Russian operatives in an effort to win election.

"This is not a good day for the White House," CNN political analyst Amie Parnes said on air.

For AT&T Inc. (T - Get Report) , Trump's running war with CNN and its president, Jeff Zucker, has been at best a distraction and at worst a cause for serious concern. Publicly, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has proclaimed his support for CNN and his belief that the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division ultimately will approve the $85.4 billion transaction.

Trump, meanwhile, has called CNN all sort things, from "fraud news" to "garbage journalism," while singling out the network as the lead player in a "witch hunt" meant to "get Trump." The testy battle began just as Trump announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination in June 2016 when he called Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. In recent months, Trump has escalated the attacks, accusing the network of mendacious reporting even as rival news outlets confirmed its reports.

In July, Trump posted a video of himself as a professional wrestler, body slamming CNN:

A day earlier, he was more direct:

At CNN, though, Stephenson's reluctance to publicly back Zucker has put network employees and others at the company on edge, Vanity Fair's Joe Pompeo reported on Sunday. Trump was said to have pushed for Zucker's removal as a prerequisite to DOJ approval, The New York Times reported on July 5. Of course, Trump is said to have adored Zucker when he embraced "The Apprentice" while president of NBC Entertainment.

Yet CNN's reporting has been substantiated by rival news agencies, observes Joseph F. Peyronnin, a media studies professor at Hofstra University and a former president of Fox News. Yes, CNN did remove three top editors after retracting a story in June about former White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci and parted ways with Kathy Griffin and Reza Aslan, neither of whom work in the network's newsroom, after their own profane attacks on the president.


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