John Stankey
John Stankey

AT&T chief John Stankey said he is "a bit sad” that his $80B deal to acquire Time Warner did not pan out as he hammered out an agreement to spin off the WarnerMedia entertainment unit and merge it with Discovery Inc.

That proposed spin-off follows another corporate flop by Ma Bell. It shelled out $48.5B in 2015 to acquire direct broadcaster DirectTV. Stankey unloaded DirectTV in February in a deal pegged at $16.3B.

To be fair to Stankey, he was not in charge when either acquisition was announced. He took over for Randall Stephenson as AT&T CEO in 2020.

The Wall Street Journal, however, portrayed Stankey, who was AT&T president/COO before ascending to the helm, as a cheerleader of both the Time Warner and DirectTV deals. He handled the integration of both companies into AT&T.

Both deals rank among the worst mergers in corporate history. It is an encore performance for WarnerMedia, which was part of the $165B Time Warner/AOL merger fiasco of 2000.

Stankey may be feeling a little down in the dumps these days. He is joined by the thousands of employees who lost jobs and investors who took a financial hit from Ma Bell’s sexy foray into the content business.

David Zaslav, Discovery CEO who will helm the WarnerMedia/Discovery mash-up, sees nothing but opportunities ahead.

"We are here today because John and I and our boards are confident that WarnerMedia and Discovery are better together. We think together, combination makes us one of the best media companies in the world," he said during the press call outlining the deal.

We've heard that story before.

We will never know if president Trump wanted to place an image of his noggin on US foreign aid. On May 14, Joe Biden signed an executive order that revoked Trump’s effort to brand US foreign assistance.

The master-brander considered branding a way to hype US aid. He viewed it as a way for foreign nations to support US policies and to build awareness among victims of natural disasters of the “manifold efforts of American taxpayers to aid them and improve their lives,” according to a December 10 executive order signed by the then-lame duck president.

Trump’s order called on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to develop a logo that embodies the values and generosity of the American people.

My hunch: the sycophantic Pompeo would have produced a Trump profile silhouette as the official US logo to be slapped on all assistance packaging, projects and activities, as well as public affairs materials.

Remember Trump tossing those rolls of paper towels to survivors of Hurricane Maria in San Juan? Had the towels been branded with Trump’s silhouette, many would tossed them back at him.

In organizing the latest effort to persuade ad buyers to boycott Fox News for its spread of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 and the “stolen election,” Media Matters for America discredits the notion that it is okay to place ads during the news part of the day.

“You might think your ads are safe if you run them along Fox’s straight “news” programming, but each so-called “news”-side show has promoted Tucker Carlson in some capacity — a total of over 300 times since Nov. 1, according to Media Matters research,” says the boycott letter that was signed by more than 40 progressive groups.

The letter calls Fox News a uniquely destructive force and warns that choosing to place ads there is a sure-fire guarantee that controversy will be coming your way.

It notes that companies and brands are speaking up against political extremists who attack our democratic institutions, undermine our public health response to the COVID-19 and climate crises, spew misogynistic beliefs, and stoke racial, anti-LGBTQ and xenophobic violence.

“Fox News’ propaganda is the key driver behind all of those depravities,” says the letter.

The network providing the following statement: "FOX News is about to close out its fourth consecutive year delivering new records in advertising revenue, so clearly Media Matters’ predictable ongoing partisan attacks have zero impact outside of their irrelevant echo chamber on social media."