By Drew FitzGerald
AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson addressed a range of topics in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, from his communication with President Trump to the legacy of CBS Corp.'s departing chief, Leslie Moonves.
Here are some edited excerpts:
On the view that politics played a role in the government's effort to block AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner, given Mr. Trump's past criticism of CNN:
"I have a sneaking suspicion that when we announced this deal had we said that we were selling CNN, I probably wouldn't have had the issues that I had surrounding getting this deal approved. I'm not suggesting that he interfered with the Department of Justice with any of this, but I think it's a logical conclusion."
On his communication with Mr. Trump, who called Mr. Stephenson after AT&T said it would give a $1,000 bonus to employees in response to the federal tax cut:
"He just wanted to tell me he thought that was a terrific gesture and wanted to say thanks for all of our support on tax reform and say great things about AT&T. I said, 'Mr. President, I wish your entire administration felt the same way about AT&T.' He said, 'Oh yeah. We can't talk about that.'"
On the value of CBS without Mr. Moonves, who stepped down from the network amid accusations that he sexually assaulted numerous women over his career. (Mr. Moonves has acknowledged having relationships with some of his accusers but said they were consensual.):
"Les has been a genius in terms of what he's done programmatically. It'd be like asking how much of Apple's business did you attribute to Steve Jobs. It's not quite that level but I do think Les is responsible for building that business into what it's become."