Thanks to Donald Trump’s attacks on CNN and the response of his fans to those attacks, the network’s “security measures have been tightened and some hosts have considered abandoning their social media accounts because of abuse,” the New York Times reports. CNN is in ”an unlikely public fight with the leader of the free world,” according to the Times, which sounds like an article pitch dropped into the final product—only who thinks Donald Trump is leading a significant chunk of the world at this point? 

But Trump’s wrath may not be expressed just in juvenile insults and inciting supporters to violence.

White House advisers have discussed a potential point of leverage over their adversary, a senior administration official said: a pending merger between CNN’s parent company, Time Warner, and AT&T. Mr. Trump’s Justice Department will decide whether to approve the merger, and while analysts say there is little to stop the deal from moving forward, the president’s animus toward CNN remains a wild card.

Yes, anti-trust policy may be driven by Trump’s personal ire toward one of the holdings of one of the companies involved. Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway will no doubt trot out to assure us that it’s not an abuse of power when the president does it.

At the end of the article, we get a couple fairly simple explanations for Trump’s attacks:

As for the White House, Mr. Zucker acknowledged that there could be a personal component to the hostility of the president, who disdains any signs of disloyalty. Mr. Zucker hired Mr. Trump to host “The Apprentice” at NBC, and the men were friendly for years. Mr. Trump has claimed credit for Mr. Zucker’s hiring at CNN and seems to view the network’s negative coverage as a form of betrayal.

“Television is his preferred medium,” Mr. Zucker said, asked why the president had zeroed in on his network. “And he knows our viewers can be swayed because they’re not watching Fox or MSNBC” — networks with an ideological bent in prime time.

Butthurt feelings and a desire to go after and delegitimize a major outlet that’s not seen as having a political lean—that would explain a lot. And CNN is just a part—currently the most visible part—of a larger war on news and reporting and any other avenue for people finding out stuff that doesn’t make Donald Trump look good.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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