AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said President Trump’s dismay with CNN should play a role in gaining government approval of AT&T’s proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner, the parent company of the 37-year-old cable news network.
“I don’t know what the relevance is of CNN to an antitrust review,” Stephenson said during a summit hosted by Vanity Fair in Beverly Hills. “I don’t anticipate that being an issue.”
The Department of Justice is expected to approve AT&T purchase of Time Warner, a deal set to create a huge conglomerate that would make well-known Time Warner properties Warner Bros., CNN, CNN International, HLN, TNT, TBS and HBO a part of AT&T's multinational conglomerate.
The president has not appeared on the network since a telephone interview with anchor Anderson Cooper in August 2016.
When asked by Vanity Fair’s moderator Stephanie Mehta on Wednesday if CNN chief Jeff Zucker was on the way out, Stephenson said he had "the hope" was to keep top talent currently at the network there.
“CNN has had a lot of success,” Stephenson said, adding that his company wasn't interested in taking control of the network just to “screw things up.”
“The hope is that we keep the key talent in place,” Stephenson added.
Zucker, who once ran NBC Universal and greenlit Trump's hit reality TV show, "The Apprentice," took over as CNN president in 2013.