The Next Huge Test for Joe Biden Is Here
It's playing out in a courtroom in Washington D.C.
One of the most consequential decisions of the Biden era will have nothing to do with whether Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi secured a massive spending package to combat climate change or shore up the social safety net. It won’t have anything to do with whether Joe Biden himself decides to cancel student debt. Certainly, it will have nothing to do with whether the Department of Justice indicts Donald Trump.
Quietly, in a courtroom in Washington D.C., one of the more significant antitrust cases of the last few decades is underway. If the Biden administration wins its case, Penguin Random House, one of the largest publishing houses on Earth, will not be able to acquire Simon & Schuster, also one of the largest publishing houses on Earth. The two companies had agreed to a merger in 2020 before the Department of Justice sued to stop it.
The move—to halt a major merger between two companies—was a striking departure from how both the Trump and Obama administrations approached antitrust. If Biden’s lawyers are successful at trial, they will set a new modern precedent, standing up to decades of consolidation among almost every major sector of business. For authors and readers alike, a blocked merger could be a victory, allowing more competition among publishers and a greater diversity of viewpoints, since conglomerates tend to be risk-averse and less interested in non-commercial voices.