On Wednesday, Bernie Sanders published an open letter on Medium in which he asks Renata Hesse, the Acting Assistant Attorney General, to reject the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner. In doing so, the Vermont senator adds his voice to a mounting chorus of concern over what would be a media conglomerate of unprecedented size and power.
Hesse is currently the country’s foremost authority on antitrust law. In his letter, Sanders strongly urges her to block the pending deal. “When one giant company owns both the content and the means of distribution, there is a clear disincentive to provide additional choices to consumers,” he writes. “In these so-called ‘vertical relationships,’ not only is competition reduced, but there is a heightened, if not insurmountable, barrier to the influx of new content and diverse voices.”
Hillary Clinton responded to the merger during a Q&A with reporters on Wednesday afternoon, and took a softer, more equivocal view than Sanders. “I think it raises questions and concerns and they should be looked into,” she said, noting that Congress “will start having bipartisan hearings” about the deal, “which I think is appropriate.” That hearing has been scheduled for November. “So I am going to follow it closely, and obviously if I am fortunate enough to be president, I will expect the government to conduct a very thorough analysis before making a decision.”