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Time Warner CEO says Democrats — not Trump — are 'real threat' to the First Amendment

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The CEO of Time Warner, which operates CNN, HBO, Warner Bros. and TBS, said Tuesday that it is not President-elect Donald Trump who is the "real threat" to the First Amendment — it's the Democrats.

During a sit-down Tuesday with Business Insider editor Henry Blodget, Time Warner's Jeff Bewkes was asked about Trump's frequent campaign promise to "open up the libel laws" as president. Bewkes said he doesn't believe those comments were a "serious thing."

But he does have some hangups on the issue when it comes to the Democratic Party, which he noted "had a campaign plank to change the First Amendment, and they were doing it in the guise of campaign finance reform."

“That would worry me more," Bewkes said, according to Politico, "because the press tends to miss that, because they tend to lean that way, therefore they supported what they were doing, and I think though they viewed it charitably as something cleaning up money in politics."

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders promised to delve into campaign finance reform after the election. For several years, Clinton has actively campaigned against the Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which classified corporations and labor unions just as it did people. The ruling allowed corporations to practice First Amendment rights by making financial contributions and ultimately led to the creation of so-called super PACs.

"I think the threat to the First Amendment came more from the Democratic side," the Time Warner CEO said. "There's not going to be a serious effort on the Republican side."

Later in the interview, Bewkes responded to Trump's specific criticism of CNN and the president-elect's supporters' oft-invoked chant, "CNN sucks."

"[Trump and his campaign] have had various disappointments in [their] own evaluation of the press, with all of the news outlets, and at times they have mentioned CNN," he said, jokingly adding, "We have noticed that some of those mentions have been exaggerated by other media outlets, I don’t know why they would do that."

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