For months, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been hinting through Beltway back channels that her administration wants to challenge corporate power. Her team has been increasingly attentive to arguments that blockbuster mergers between mega-corporations hamper market competition, force consumers to pay higher prices for lousier service and enhance the political power of big firms.
But it has largely been Washington gossip. In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine gave a public airing of the Clinton campaign’s views.
When asked about whether the administration would support telecom giant AT&T’s bid to acquire media conglomerate Time Warner, Kaine didn’t close the door on supporting the deal. But he did throw far more shade at the arrangement than political campaigns typically do.
“Some Democrats, including Al Franken, are very skeptical of the merger, including Donald Trump as well,” NBC host Chuck Todd said. “But Al Franken said, ‘I’m skeptical of huge media mergers because they can lead to higher costs, fewer choices, and even worse service for consumers.’ Are you a skeptic of this merger as well?”
“I share those concerns and questions,” Kaine replied. “We’ve got to get to the bottom of them. [We are] generally pro-competition. And less concentration I think is generally helpful, especially in the media. But this has just been announced, and I haven’t had a chance to dig into the details. But those are the kinds of questions that we need to be asking.”
Addressing news of the merger Saturday, Trump said he would block it if he wins the White House in November.
“It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” Trump said during a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The GOP presidential nominee, who has stepped up his attacks against the media in recent weeks, added that his administration would also look at breaking up the 2011 merger of Comcast and NBC Universal.
For the past three decades, both political parties have been sympathetic to increasing concentrations of corporate power. That consensus now appears to be changing. For more on the shift, read here.
This article has been updated with comments from Trump.