President Trump called for AT&T to cut ties with CNN’s Jeff Zucker Thursday, after the first family and the cable news network got caught up in a public feud on Twitter – but it doesn’t appear that the telecom giant is ready to weigh in on its new subsidiary’s boss.
“The hatred and extreme bias of me by @CNN has clouded their thinking and made them unable to function. But actually, as I have always said, this has been going on for a long time,” Trump tweeted. “Little Jeff Z has done a terrible job, his ratings suck, & AT&T should fire him to save credibility!”
A federal judge approved AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of CNN’s parent, Time Warner, earlier this year. As a result, CNN now falls under the control of AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson – whose business is highly regulated by the federal government.
Fox News reached out to AT&T with a series of questions, including whether or not the company stands by Zucker after the president called for his job.
“No comment from AT&T,” a spokesperson replied via email.
On Wednesday night, CNN’s public relations department tweeted an unprecedented attack on Trump that led to the president calling for Zucker’s job. The statement from CNN came after the president mocked Watergate legend Carl Bernstein, who co-wrote the widely disputed report that Trump’s former lawyer was prepared to give damning information about the president to Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“Make no mistake, Mr. President, CNN does not lie. We report the news. And we report when people in power tell lies. CNN stands by our reporting and our reporters. There may be many fools in this story but @carlbernstein is not one of them,” CNN’s public relations department sent.
Stephenson’s office did not respond when asked if AT&T condones CNN executives engaging in a Twitter feud with the president. AT&T declined comment and told Fox News that Stephenson is not expected to speak publicly until a Goldman Sachs event on Sept. 12.
Stephenson has stood by Zucker in the past and was adamant that CNN wouldn’t be sold off when AT&T acquired Time Warner – even if spinning off the network would have helped the deal get approved. Since the merger, AT&T has allowed CNN to operate as its own company and hasn’t gotten involved with the network’s operations or public relations strategy.
Reporter-turned-investment banker Porter Bibb told Fox News that it’s “never smart to taunt POTUS in any way, shape or form,” as he “owns the bully pulpit” and will always have the last word. Bibb doesn’t think Trump can do much to hurt AT&T from a regulatory perspective but said his “animosity will impact AT&T’s stock” if things continue to play out in public.