CNN For Sale? “Fake News” and Bias Criticized by Shareholder Activists May Lead AT&T to Put Network on the Market After Buying Time Warner

Free Enterprise Project Often Took Time Warner Leadership to Task About CNN’s Lack of Objectivity

Washington, D.C. – AT&T may sell off CNN after finalizing the acquisition of its parent company Time Warner later this year, according to a report by Deadline Hollywood. It’s speculated the telecommunications giant might seek to distance itself from the news network that’s been besieged by allegations of bias, “fake news” and a fixation with negative coverage of President Donald Trump.

Long before CNN’s current predicament, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project (FEP) personally pressed the issue of bias harming the network’s brand with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes on multiple occasions. FEP attended four of the last five Time Warner annual shareholder meetings. FEP criticized CNN’s coverage of gun-related crime as well as praised its hiring of more conservative voices and subsequent ratings boost. But the relationship culminated with a call earlier this year for the company to fire CNN President Jeff Zucker when three CNN staffers resigned after publishing a poorly-sourced article about Trump-Russia allegations and a CNN producer was caught on camera describing Zucker obsessing about Trump-Russia coverage.

“It’s not a surprise AT&T is considering dumping CNN. In the Trump era, CNN has become a parody of a news network, seemingly devoted to destroying the President and his team. Furthermore, the recent behavior of some CNN employees has dispelled any notion it is a legitimate news network,” said National Center General Counsel and FEP Director Justin Danhof, Esq. “When CNN reportedly threatened to expose a Reddit user for simply making a funny meme of President Trump wrestling the CNN logo, it officially jumped the shark. And just as when a television series jumps the shark, it’s time to cut bait. AT&T appears to be considering that very option.”

Danhof added: “The National Center’s Free Enterprise Project is the only organization that repeatedly confronted Time Warner executives over bias issues and warned that CNN is an albatross around the company’s neck. Although Time Warner’s leadership committed to increasing objectivity time and time again, CNN failed to get the message. AT&T seems to be aware of just how much damage CNN has done to Time Warner’s brand and reputation, and it apparently doesn’t want to assume the same risk.”

“Time Warner’s repeated claims that it was striving to increase objectivity always struck me as disingenuous,” Danhof noted. “At the 2013 shareholder meeting, I spoke privately about it with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes. He essentially said liberal media bias was so baked in the cake that, if he fired everyone at CNN and set out to hire a new batch of journalists, any journalist he hired would be cut from the same liberal cloth. Perhaps he is blissfully unaware of the giant news station knows as Fox News that has dominated CNN in the ratings for years. It manages to nab top conservative and independent journalists all the time. Beyond Fox News, websites such as the Daily Caller, Breitbart and Townhall all speak truth to Bewkes’s lie as they are replete with quality conservative journalists.”

“At this year’s Time Warner shareholder meeting – likely his last as CEO – I presented Jeff Bewkes with quantitative proof of CNN’s obsessive and overwhelmingly negative coverage of the Trump Administration,” said National Center Vice President David W. Almasi. “In our nearly 12-minute exchange about that and Time Warner’s support of the theater company presenting the graphic Trump-inspired production of Julius Caesar in Central Park, Bewkes blamed Trump. He claimed Trump’s actions forced CNN to ignore almost everything else in the world besides the Russia allegations. But he could not explain away why coverage was narrated almost exclusively by Trump critics, and he said he would ‘recommit’ to making CNN independent. It appears to be too little, too late to save CNN’s reputation.”

FEP experts are available to speak on the reported CNN sale and other issues. To book an interview, contact Judy Kent at (703) 759-7476.

Launched in 2007, the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project is the nation’s preeminent free-market activist group — focusing on shareholder activism and the confluence of big government and big business. Since 2014, its representatives have participated in over 100 shareholder meetings to advance free-market ideals in health care, energy, taxes, subsidies, regulations, religious freedom, food policies, media bias, gun rights, workers’ rights and other important public policy issues. FEP’s Employee Conscience Protection Project strengthened protections for the political beliefs and activities of over five million workers at 13 major U.S. corporations. FEP’s questioning of Boeing’s and General Electric’s support for the Clinton Foundation helped trigger an FBI investigation into the Foundation’s activities. Executives put on the spot by FEP at ABC News (Disney), the Washington Post and CNN (Time Warner) meetings acknowledged media bias.

FEP activity this year has been covered by media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Variety, the Associated Press, Bloomberg, Drudge Report, Business Insider, National Public Radio and SiriusXM. FEP’s work was also featured in Wall Street Journal writer Kimberley Strassel’s 2016 book The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech (Hachette Book Group).

The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, less than four percent from foundations and less than two percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 60,000 active recent contributors. Tax-deductible donations to support the National Center’s programs are greatly appreciated and can be made here. Sign up for email updates here. Follow us on Twitter at @NationalCenter for general announcements. To be alerted to upcoming media appearances by National Center staff, follow our media appearances Twitter account at @NCPPRMedia.


The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.