Blog ››› ››› MATT GERTZ
Why would Thomas Hicks Jr., the latest potential bidder for Tribune Media Company, want to purchase its 42 local television stations? The best bet is because he wants to use them to help President Donald Trump get re-elected.
The Federal Communications Commission effectively spiked conservative local news goliath Sinclair Broadcast Group’s planned acquisition of Tribune in July, opening up the potential of new suitors coming in to buy its stations.
Hicks, a partner at his father’s investment firm, is planning to bid for the company, the New York Post reported yesterday. Hicks doesn’t currently own any TV stations, which the Post’s sources say is a “possible edge” since he will be able to avoid the regulatory struggles that entangled Sinclair.
Hicks has deep ties to Trump’s political apparatus.
The Texas scion served as national finance co-chair for Trump’s presidential campaign and finance vice chair of his inauguration committee, and he now chairs the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action and its associated nonprofit, America First Policies. While the organizations have been criticized for spending too much money throwing parties and feathering the nests of Trump hangers-on, America First Action has spent $16 million to support Republican politicians this election cycle.
Hicks’ entree into the Trump orbit came through his friendship with Donald Trump Jr. -- as sons, namesakes, and longtime employees of billionaire fathers famed for their dealmaking prowess, the pair have much in common. Hicks was reportedly responsible for the hiring of Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News host and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, as America First Action’s new vice chairwoman.
While Hicks currently owns no TV stations, he does have strong feelings about the media, arguing that outlets are unfair to the president.
In an “Open Letter to the Colluding Press,” Hicks and Sean Spicer, America First Action’s senior adviser and the former White House press secretary, responded to The Boston Globe’s effort to organize hundreds of newspapers to publish simultaneous editorials criticizing the Trump administration’s attacks on the press.
In the letter, Hicks and Spicer criticize media for having “failed to live up to their responsibility,” attacking journalists for producing “inaccurate” and “biased” reporting about Trump’s administration while failing to report on his triumphs. The pair provides an “indisputable list” of Trump’s “accomplishments,” adding that “in the name of a free and fair press, we implore all journalists to start sharing them—instead of their own personal biases.”
If Hicks’ bid is successful, he won’t just be able to “implore” journalists to print pro-Trump talking points; he’ll be able to compel them to do so in dozens of communities, broadcasting to major cities and swing states alike.