You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Trump Has Some Words of Praise for Disney-Fox Deal

WASHINGTON — In the hours after the Disney-Fox merger was announced on Thursday, President Trump spoke with Rupert Murdoch to congratulate him on the deal and seemingly expressed some support for it.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump “thinks that — to use one of the president’s favorite words — that this could be a great thing for jobs, and certainly looks forward to — and hoping to see a lot more of those created.”

Gabriel Sherman of New York magazine reported that Trump called Murdoch ahead of the Disney deal to make sure that Fox News would not be among the assets sold.

Given Trump’s relationship with Murdoch, the president’s expression of at least some favoritism for the mega-merger is likely to again focus attention on his influence over a major media transaction.

That has been an issue in the AT&T-Time Warner merger, which is now being challenged by the Justice Department. Makan Delrahim, the chief of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, denies that the decision to try to block the deal was because of White House interference, and argues that the transaction poses anticompetitive concerns that could mean higher prices for consumers.

But Trump has railed against CNN during the presidential campaign and in his first year in office, and has said that there is a problem with media concentration in general. There were reports that Justice Department attorneys told AT&T that one of their options was to sell the Turner division, which includes the news network, as a way to get the deal approved.

By contrast, Trump has expressed more favorable views of Fox News, and routinely quotes from “Fox & Friends” in his morning tweets.

The Disney-Fox deal faces a regulatory review process that could take up to 18 months, and Disney CEO Bob Iger said on “Good Morning America” the transaction “is a different kind of merger [from AT&T-Time Warner]. We’re hoping the government takes a look at this from a consumer point of view.”

In their merger announcement, the two companies talked about saving $2 billion from cost efficiencies, but it is unclear if that means jobs will be trimmed.

Iger had a relationship with Trump as one of the business leaders who were members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum. But he resigned from the group in June in protest of Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accords.

There was some talk of the merger — and whether Trump’s comments on it will only call more attention to his role in the review process — at the Washington DC premiere of “The Post” on Thursday, which was hosted by its distributor, 21st Century Fox. Director Steven Spielberg, who was joined by stars Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks at the event, declined to comment on the transaction.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said that “any merger that size, we should have hearings.”

“I know all the players involved. I am sure they have looked at it. I think the American public should have a say in it too,” he said of the $52 billion transaction.

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor PAC Goes Quiet as Candidates Reject Corporate Cash

    In February 2017, Hollywood was gripped by a spirit of resistance to the Trump administration. Endeavor bosses Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell pledged to do their part to fight back by organizing a political action committee. The committee, Endeavor Action, took in almost $300,000 in 2017 and 2018, and distributed about half that money to [...]

  • Michael Bloomberg Democratic National Convention

    Michael Bloomberg Considers Presidential Run as Democrat

    Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering whether to jump into the Democratic primary, as he grows concerned that no one in the current field can beat President Trump. Bloomberg, worth an estimated $52 billion, previously ruled out a run, saying it would be difficult to succeed in a crowded Democratic field. But his [...]

  • President Donald Trump speaks in the

    Donald Trump Ordered to Pay $2 Million for Misuse of Charitable Funds

    A New York judge has ordered President Trump to pay $2 million to resolve allegations that he misused charitable funds for campaign purposes. The New York attorney general’s office sued Trump and three of his children in June 2018, alleging they had solicited tax-deductible donations for a veterans fundraiser in Des Moines in January 2016. [...]

  • Haim Saban

    Haim Saban Hosts Fundraiser for Speaker Nancy Pelosi Amid Impeachment Probe

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi will attend a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Beverly Hills home of billionaire Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl, as the Democrats seek funds to retain their House majority in 2020. Pelosi and House Democratic Caucus Chair Hakeem Jeffries will both be in attendance to raise money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign [...]

  • Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris

    Kamala Harris to Hold 'Fireside Chat' Fundraiser at UCB Theatre

    Kamala Harris will hold another Hollywood fundraiser next week, as she looks to regain momentum with less than 100 days to go before the Iowa caucus. Harris will appear on stage on Nov. 13 at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Hollywood. The event is billed as a “fireside chat” with Matt Walsh, the “Veep” [...]

  • Tyler Perry Studios

    Tyler Perry Studios to Host Next Democratic Debate

    The fifth Democratic presidential debate will be held at Tyler Perry Studios, the sprawling 330-acre complex built on the site of a former Army base in Atlanta, MSNBC announced on Monday. MSNBC and the Washington Post will host the debate, which will begin on Nov. 20 at 9 p.m. ET. Four women will moderate: MSNBC [...]

  • Hillary Clinton

    Hillary Clinton Says Mark Zuckerberg 'Should Pay a Price' for Facebook Fake Ads

    Democracy is under attack and data is the weapon being used to drive wedges in our polarized society. That was the message that Hillary Clinton delivered at a New York City screening of the Netflix documentary “The Great Hack” on Friday night. The former secretary of state argued that tech giants such as Facebook need [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content