AT&T has made the decision, reports Vanity Fair, after long dancing with the issue and not formally agreeing, when asked by reporters whether or not Jeff Zucker would remain at the helm as CNN Worldwide president when AT&T acquires Time Warner, to give him the vote of confidence.
The report states that when AT&T CEO’s Randall Stephenson’s deputy, John Stankey (who will oversee Time Warner’s media properties) arrived at the Time Warner Center on August 10 for a meeting with Zucker in the CNN chief’s fifth-floor office, adjacent to the newsroom, Zucker had a request, according to several people familiar with the meeting: he wanted an assurance that AT&T would come out publicly with a show of support once the deal closed. Stankey, the Vanity Fair sources said, agreed.
AT&T has given the thumbs-up on Zucker, Vanity Fair says. In a statement provided to VF by Stankey, he said, “We don’t comment upon anyone’s employment at a company we don’t yet own. 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.”
While Zucker staying has calmed the fears of some CNN insiders that spoke with Vanity Fair, one CNN reporter was still concerned.
“People should be worried,” the CNN reporter said, according to the report. “If [Zucker] were to be forced out or decide to leave, it would be a severe blow to the newsroom. I just don’t think the folks in Dallas [AT&T] have the slightest idea how CNN works. I cannot emphasize enough, these people have no idea what they’re buying. I get the sense that these are aliens from Mars landing on Earth.”