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AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson played down the recent departure of executives from Time Warner, which the company acquired last year and used to build its new WarnerMedia unit.

Why it matters: Stephenson’s bet that the telecom company can use original content to compete with Amazon and Netflix depends on its ability to integrate the Time Warner properties into its business.

Background: Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes departed the company when the deal closed.

  • HBO chief Richard Plepler and Turner president David Levy both left recently after it became clear they’d lose power in the consolidated company.
  • And Kevin Tsujihara stepped down this week as the head of the Warner Bros. movie studio after allegations he worked to set up job opportunities for an actress with whom he was in a sexual relationship.

What he’s saying: “Does it worry me? Yeah, of course you worry,” Stephenson said during an event hosted by the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. “But other than the head of Warner Bros. studios ... the rest of them were not surprises.”

  • He said that Plepler “did an amazing job growing HBO to where it is today, but where the world is going is a very different place.”
  • He said the company would focus on diversity in hiring executives in the future.

Stephenson also weighed in on the debate over shunning Huawei networking technology on national security grounds.

  • “I don’t think our government is doing their best work in explaining why this security risk exists,” he said.
  • He said he was less worried about the Chinese government eavesdropping than about a foreign company being enmeshed with connected infrastructure down the road.
  • “We have to ask ourselves a question: If that much of our infrastructure will be attached to this kind of technology, do we want to be cautious about who is the underlying company behind that technology?” he said. “We damn well better be.”

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Biden reviews U.S. arms deals with Saudi Arabia and UAE

Trump struck several large arms deals with Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

The Biden administration has put on hold two big arms deals with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates which were approved in the final weeks of the Trump administration, a State Department official told Axios.

Why it matters: The sales of F-35 jets and attack drones to the UAE and a large supply of munitions to Saudi Arabia will be paused pending a review. That signals a major policy shift from the Trump era, and may herald sharp tensions with both Gulf countries.

Trump supporter found with pipe bombs accused of plot to attack Democrats

Five improvised explosive devices that the FBI says "were fully operational and could cause great bodily harm or injury if handled improperly." Photo: FBI/Justice Department

The FBI believes California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and the Bay Area headquarters of Twitter and Facebook were targets of a man facing federal explosives charges, according to a criminal complaint.

Driving the news: Prosecutors charged Ian Benjamin Rogers after finding weapons including five pipe bombs, 49 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition following a Jan. 15 search of his Napa County home and auto repair business. His alleged goal was to ensure former President Trump remained in office.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: COVID vaccine rollout needs to prioritize people of color

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Alex Wong via Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci highlighted the need to address racial disparities in the COVID-19 vaccination process, per an interview with The New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday.

What he’s saying: "I think that's the one thing we really got to be careful of. We don't want in the beginning ... most of the people who are getting it are otherwise, well, middle-class white people."