Negotiations between the companies and the Department of Justice have turned so contentious that now both sides are arguing publicly over what the dispute is even about.
As U.S. wireless growth slows down, AT&T has been looking for ways to marry its nationwide wireless business with video, which Americans increasingly watch on the internet. Another option: selling DirecTV, the satellite broadcaster that AT&T bought two years ago. And likewise I have never offered to sell CNN.
Turner Broadcasting, which includes TNT, TBS and CNN, is one of the most profitable divisions of Time Warner.
News of Kushner's remarks come amid AT&T's plans for a $84.5 billion merger with Time Warner. Or AT&T could limit Time Warner content to its own customers, in direct or subtle ways, hurting rival cable and online distributors. Several Democratic lawmakers have also pushed back against the combination. The Justice Department, which is reviewing the $85.4 billion deal, recently presented the options to the companies, the source added, confirming reports from United States media and the Financial Times.
But AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the Justice Department never asked his company to divest from CNN in order to acquire Time Warner. AT&T wasn't interested in doing so. In light of Trump's frequent critiques of CNN, the move raised questions about Trump's possible political interference in what is supposed to be an impartial economic analysis.
The DOJ should forget about CNN and reject the merger to prevent further consolidation of media power. Other outlets reported that the Trump administration had demanded the sale.
The newspaper's source in the White House said that this was meant merely as a joke and Kushner did not mean to be taken seriously.
Delrahim has said he prefers "structural" changes to a deal, like selling off assets, rather than having the government monitor a company's promises to abide by certain conditions, as was done with Comcast. "It's illogical. It's why we did the deal", he said. "For me it would be virtually impossible to not take that into account".
Speaking at a conference in New York, Stephenson disputed claims he offered to sell CNN to win approval of AT&T's takeover of Time Warner. "DOJ will say, 'Hey, we are a strong cop on the beat.' And everyone walks away happy".
It's also unlikely AT&T will agree to sell or spin off DirecTV, Barclays analysts wrote Thursday. AT&T shares rose 1.6 percent to $33.97.