Friday, October 21, 2016

Time Is On My Side

If you thought the Comcast-NBC/Universal deal was bad for the American media consumer and the landscape of competition in a wolrd where information comes from fewer and ewer sources, wait until you see the new AT&T Time Warner merger.

AT&T Inc is in advanced talks to acquire media conglomerate Time Warner Inc, and a deal could come as early as this weekend, the Wall Street Journal reported. 
The talks around the cash-and-stock deal have come together quickly, the Journal reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the matter. 
Time Warner's shares were up 8.2 percent at $89.77 in late morning trading. AT&T was down 2 percent at $37.87. 
Time Warner, which has a market value of about $65 billion, is an attractive target because of its premium cable channel HBO, the CNN news network, film studio Warner Bros and other media assets. 
AT&T, which has a market capitalization of about $238 billion, has already made moves to turn itself into a media powerhouse, buying satellite TV provider DirecTV last year for $48.5 billion. 
Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes has not been willing to sell in the past. The company rejected an $80 billion offer from Twenty-First Century Fox Inc in 2014.

AT&T and Time Warner were not immediately available for comment.

So a short list of what AT&T would control after this merger:

  • CNN
  • HBO
  • The CW Network (well, half of it, the other half belongs to CBS turns out)
  • DirecTV
  • AT&T Mobile
  • BellSouth
  • Southwestern Bell
  • New Line Pictures
  • Warner Bros. Pictures
  • Cricket Wireless
  • Bleacher Report
  • DC Comics

All under one company's control.  Yeah, this seems like a great idea.  Sign me up, right?  What if the new company decides to tell Comcast and Charter "Hey, we're only going to carry HBO on DirecTV from here on out."  Maybe that won't happen.  Maybe it will.  But these guys would control a gigantic pile of movies, sports websites, two mobile phone companies, a whole crapload of baby bells, a TV network, a ton of cable networks and DC Comics on top of all that.  Who needs cable when you have mobile, satellite, and a whole lot of "last mile" utility poles?

Now you tell me that's a good idea.

And You Can Call Me Al

The annual Al Smith dinner in NYC, a fundraiser for Catholic charities, usually sees both candidates take the stage in a presidential election year to take some shots across each other's respective bows a few weeks before Election Day, all in good fun. Of course this year one of those candidates is Donald Trump, and things went, well, exactly as you would expect them to have gone considering Trump's history.

Donald Trump said Thursday he was in a room full of wonderful people at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York.

“Or as Hillary calls it, her largest crowd of her season,” he said with a chuckle, as Democratic rival Hillary Clinton laughed, too. “This is corny stuff.”

But as his remarks progressed, Trump’s speech turned more biting.

“Here she is tonight, pretending not to hate Catholics,” he said. Several in the crowd booed.

Trump went on: “Everyone knows of course Hillary’s belief that it takes a village, as in Haiti where she’s taken a number of them.” That was met with more jeering from the crowd. Clinton’s smile was still on her face, but she didn’t laugh.

Both candidates were, for the most part, good-natured yet tough on each other, but Trump apparently misread this particular audience gathered in his heavily Democratic hometown. Still, despite the booing spells, Trump got strong laughter from throughout the room at his best jokes. The loudest roar of approval came at the expense of his wife.

“The media is even more biased against me than ever before," Trump said. "You want the proof? Michelle Obama gives a speech and everyone loves it. It’s fantastic. They think she’s absolutely great. My wife Melania gives the exact same speech! And people get on her case! And I don’t get it! I don’t know why!”

At another point, Trump made light of his assertion that Clinton's use of a private e-mail server while secretary of state constitutes a punishable crime.

"We've proven that we can actually be civil to each other," Trump said. "In fact just before taking the dais Hillary accidentally bumped into me and she very civilly said 'Pardon me.'"

Yeah, the guy got the biggest laughs when he went after his wife and the woman he's running against.  I think I'm noticing a pattern here.  Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton may not have Barack Obama's natural comedic delivery gifts, but she does have 25 years of DC fighting experience in arenas such as these. She got some shots in too at the Waldorf Astoria ballroom last night.

Clinton, who spoke second, began with the self-deprecatory remarks and gracious gestures that have been the hallmarks of previous dinners.

She got big laughs when she told the audience: “I just want to put you all in a basket of adorables.”

She told Trump that if he didn’t like what she was saying, “Feel free to stand up and shout ‘wrong!’ while I’m talking.” That was a reference to Trump’s habit of interrupting her comments during the three presidential debates.

Clinton also shifted to more biting tone as her speech progressed, and added that after Trump’s speech that she’ll “enjoy listening to Mike Pence deny that you ever gave it.”

Trump, with his arms folded, laughed.

Still, Joy Reid summed it up best this morning:

For Trump it was being made to look like a national laughing stock all over again like Obama did to him five years ago at that now infamous 2011 White House correspondents dinner.  If you thought his meltdown was bad before...

...stay tuned.  I think the final two weeks and change of this campaign are going to be amazing.


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