Following a federal judge’s approval of AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner on Tuesday, Time Warner’s executive vice president Gary Ginsberg came out swinging against the Department of Justice, calling its lawsuit to block the deal on antitrust grounds “meritless.”
“The Court’s resounding rejection of the government’s arguments is confirmation that this was a case that was baseless, political in its motivation, and should never have been brought in the first place,” he told reporters after the decision.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Leon expressed surprisingly similar opinions, noting from the bench, “the cost to the defendants and the government has been staggering” and strongly warning DOJ lawyers to not ask for a hold on the merger from him if they planned an appeal, according to CNN reporter Hadas Gold. Ginsberg told the Daily Beast news site that he hoped DOJ lawyers would listen to the judge, who placed no conditions on the merger.
As a candidate, President Donald Trump spoke out against the merger, and routinely posts negative messages on Twitter about the integrity of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner. Time Warner and AT&T avoided invoking the president’s statements before and during the trial, and the judge barred them from obtaining White House communications to introduce in the trial, stating in March that the companies had “fallen far short of establishing that this enforcement action was selective.”
In the current climate of high-anxiety politics and the president’s itchy Twitter finger, it’s rare for company representatives to speak so bluntly. Ginsberg spoke to several media outlets, and told the Daily Beast: “The evidence was so lacking from the government. The decision was entirely appropriate and consistent with what was presented.”
Ginsberg, the executive in charge of Time Warner’s marketing and communications, served as White House counsel during the Clinton administration, and spent 11 years at News Corporation, run by Rupert Murdoch, a wary media ally of Trump. He joined Time Warner in 2010.