AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson indicated that
"I don't know what the relevance is of CNN to an anti-trust review," Stephenson said Wednesday at Vanity Fair's new establishment summit in Beverly Hills. "I don't anticipate that being an issue."
AT&T is awaiting the
Trump frequently has taken to Twitter to blast CNN's coverage of him, calling the 24-hour news network "fake news." Stephenson's point Wednesday was that there was not legal justification to attach conditions to the deal related to CNN's coverage of the president.
Trump also has suggested that CNN’s chief,
So is Zucker on the way out? asked Vanity Fair's Stephanie Mehta, who was leading the question-and-answer session.
Stephenson hesitated, but went on to say that "CNN has had a lot of success," and that AT&T had no interest in taking over just to "screw things up." Privately, AT&T executives have said that Zucker's job was not in jeopardy. "The hope is that we keep the key talent in place," Stephenson said.
In addition to Zucker, AT&T's John Stankey — who will take over the Time Warner properties after the merger — has been meeting with Richard Plepler, chief executive of HBO, and Kevin Tsujihara, who runs Warner Bros. Both executives attended the conference.
Stephenson also made a joke about concerns in Hollywood that the phone company, and its rigid culture, might stymie the creativity at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.
"I'm worried that Plepler's and Tsujihara's culture will infuse into the phone company and really screw it up," Stephenson said. "That's what keeps me up at night."