- Stephanie Ruhle, an anchor at MSNBC, has a close relationship with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
- Plank seeks Ruhle’s advice on a variety of matters, including public relations strategies, according to the Journal.
- In 2017, Ruhle reportedly advised Plank to directly engage with President Donald Trump.
- That advice may have resulted in comments Plank made about Trump in 2017, which resulted in what the company described as a “media hailstorm.”
Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank has maintained a close relationship with MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle for years, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. Ruhle advises him on a variety of matters, according to the report, and her advice sometimes overrules others in the company.
That may have landed Under Armour in some hot water in 2017. At that time, the Trump presidency was still nascent, and many businesses leaders avoided saying anything for fear of angering either supporters or detractors of the president.
Ruhle advised Plank to directly engage President Donald Trump, which was the opposite of what many within Under Armour thought the company should do, the Journal reported.
In an interview with CNBC’s “Fast Money Halftime Report” in February 2017, Plank didn’t hold back.
“To have such a pro-business president is something that is a real asset for the country,” Plank said. “People can really grab that opportunity.”
The CEO was responding to a question from CNBC anchor Scott Wapner about Plank’s involvement in Trump’s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative. His comments were widely criticised at the time.
Even basketball player Steph Curry, arguably Under Armour’s most important sponsored athlete, spoke out against Plank’s comments.
“I agree with that description, if you remove the ‘et’ from asset,” Curry told Mercury News in an interview that month.
Days later, Under Armour came out against Trump’s executive order that barred immigrants from a list of majority-Muslim countries to enter the United States.
Plank clarified his comments during a June 2017 interview, saying it was “unfortunate that my words got characterised in a way that were meant to be divisive in some way, shape, or form.”
Plank later resigned from the president’s manufacturing council in the wake of Trump’s comments about the violent white-supremacist march and related protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead.
It’s unclear whether Ruhle’s advice was related to Plank’s decision to engage with the Trump administration.
“The company found itself in media hailstorms … generating opinions from across our industry and customer base,” Under Armour’s senior vice president of corporate communications, Kelley McCormick, told the Journal, adding that the decision to engage with Trump and attend meetings at the White House was made with input from many parties.
“No one voice had greater influence than the collective view to make the best decisions for Under Armour,” she told the newspaper.
Under Armour declined to comment further to Business Insider. A spokesperson for MSNBC did not immediately return a request for comment.
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