Trump tweeted, “Great News! Randall Stephenson, the CEO of heavily indebted AT&T, which owns and presides over Fake News @CNN, is leaving, or was forced out. Anyone who lets a garbage ‘network’ do and say the things that CNN does, should leave ASAP. Hopefully replacement will be much better!”
Stankey, however, has been chief operating officer since last fall and, before that, was CEO of WarnerMedia, the division that includes CNN.
Stankey also was present throughout AT&T’s defense of its proposed merger with Time Warner after the Justice Department challenged it in a landmark antitrust trial in 2018.
A judge ruled in favor of AT&T, allowing the merger to proceed, and an appeals court reaffirmed that decision before the government dropped the challenge.
Trump, though, opposed the merger from the start. During the campaign, he announced his opposition to the transaction, and it was rather clear then that the source of his discontent was over CNN, the network he has consistently bashed and tagged as “fake news.” He did so at Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing, when he lashed out at correspondent Kaitlan Collins. As she pressed the president with a question about North Korea, he said, “CNN is fake news. Don’t talk to me.”