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AT&T is standing by CNN chief Jeff Zucker despite critics who say the network leader might be out of a job should AT&T complete its planned merger with CNN’s parent Time Warner.
In a statement to TheWrap, AT&T Senior Executive Vice President John Stankey lauded Zucker’s performance — while leaving the door open to reconsidering the longtime exec’s position at some point in the future.
“We’ve done several mergers, and for obvious reasons, we don’t comment upon anyone’s employment at a company we don’t yet own. Until you close the deal, there are things you just don’t know and can’t do,” said Stankey, who is expected to replace current Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes and oversee AT&T’s expanded entertainment division once the $86 billion acquisition is complete.
“But, as it relates to CNN, it’s clearly a great organization, they are having a great year, and Jeff Zucker is doing a terrific job,” Stankey added.
Stankey is expected to oversee the Time Warner media portfolio if the merger is successful. The news was first reported by Vanity Fair.
While not a completely full-throated endorsement, the support from Stankey tamps down fevered speculation from Zucker foes who have long hoped the merger would lead to his ouster from the network.
In July, the New York Times reported that President Trump — a frequent CNN critic — might consider using the Department of Justice, which must approve the merger, as leverage to force Zucker out.