The man who oversees WarnerMedia and CNN on Friday divulged little when asked about Jeff Zucker’s departure from the network.
Zucker announced his resignation as CNN president on Wednesday after revealing that he had a relationship with senior network executive Allison Gollust.
AT&T CEO John Stankey was interviewed on CNBC from Pebble Beach, Calif., where his company is hosting the annual AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am golf tournament. He denied Zucker was fired or pushed out.
“Jeff resigned, and the decision to resign was Jeff’s decision. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances,” Stankey told “Squawk Box.” “I know that Jeff had a tremendous following within CNN, and there is a lot of people who are incredibly loyal and supportive of him, and that makes it hard for those individuals.
“However, when I step back and think about what Jeff’s been able to accomplish over nine years, you can’t take that away from him. He’s been a very strong leader at CNN, but there’s a lot of people at CNN who make that success possible.”
Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who will assume oversight of WarnerMedia and CNN once a merger is official, said even less than Stankey.
“Jeff is a good friend of mine. I can’t speak to this issue. We don’t own the company yet,” Zaslav told “Squawk Box.”
Both Stankey and Zaslav were pressed on reporting from multiple news outlets that said Discovery board member John Malone pushed the company to take action.
“None of us had anything to do with it,” Zaslav told CNBC.
“I am not going to speculate on your theory,” Stankey told “Squawk Box.” “I have always had a practice of not commenting on personnel decisions, and I’m not going to do that here.”
Stankey refused to elaborate on a report that WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar suggested to people at CNN’s Washington, D.C., bureau that Zucker had no choice but to resign.
“Jason certainly has his point of view,” Stankey told CNBC.
He also offered little after being asked why CNN’s marketing chief Gollust remained working at the network after Zucker’s exit.
“Allison, her circumstances are different, and I don’t want to get involved in discussing her situation,” Stankey told CNBC.
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