MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle’s relationship with Under Armour executive chairman Kevin Plank has raised eyebrows of media insiders for years and a new report sheds more light on the situation.

The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday published a report that puts the MSNBC host at the center of a possible media scandal amid allegations she used her platform to run damage control for Under Armour. 

The Journal reported that Ruhle, who anchors MSNBC’s "The 11th Hour" and serves as a business analyst for NBC News, was provided with "a private phone with a special email address to communicate" with Plank, according to court documents. 

"Plank and Ruhle were questioned by lawyers earlier this year in connection with a shareholder lawsuit, and portions of their depositions and some of their emails were recently unsealed in court. The documents provide new insights into their close ties and her unusual role as his adviser," WSJ reporter Khadeeja Safdar wrote. 


Stephanie Ruhle

MSNBC anchor Stephanie Ruhle’s relationship with Under Armour executive chairman Kevin Plank has raised eyebrows of media insiders for years. (Photo by Riccardo Savi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

Plank, who was the company’s chief executive until 2019 and remains executive chairman, and Ruhle "corresponded regularly and at all hours," the documents detailed. 

"In 2016, Plank sent Ruhle what he described as a secret recording he made of a conversation he just had with another top executive at Under Armour. Earlier that year, the then-Bloomberg anchor advised Under Armour to give internal data to Bloomberg’s competitors to manage negative publicity, the court documents show," Safdar wrote. 

Under Armour shareholders filed a lawsuit in 2017 alleging the company artificially inflated its share price, resulting in losses for them. "At issue are the company’s 26 straight quarters of at least 20% year-over-year revenue growth, a streak that ended when Under Armour missed its sales targets in the final quarter of 2016," Safdar wrote. 

Shareholders have alleged that Plank and other Under Armour honchos knew sales were weak and enlisted Ruhle to help counter the talking point, but Under Armour insists the claim is "meritless" and "being defended vigorously," according to the WSJ. 

MSNBCs Stephanie Ruhle

Stephanie Ruhle hosts "The 11th Hour" on MSNBC.  (Screenshot/MSNBC)

During a recent deposition, Plank said the MSNBC anchor was his "confidant," according to the WSJ. He admitted to seeking her advice on banking and media issues, and provided her with a "cellphone and a special email address so she could communicate privately with him," according to the report. 

It was previously reported that Ruhle offered advice to Plank on a critical 2016 public relations debacle when Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry’s signature sneaker was widely mocked on social media. Ruhle later discussed the shoes on air. It has also been previously reported that Ruhle was given rides on a private jet funded by Plank. 

"We were friends and I covered his company," Ruhle said in her recent deposition, the WSJ reported. 

"I was flying on his plane as myself, Stephanie Ruhle. I’m not really in a category one or the other," she responded when asked if she flew on his jet as a reporter or simply as Plank’s friend.


Stephanie Ruhle hosts MSNBC’s "The 11th Hour."

Stephanie Ruhle hosts MSNBC’s "The 11th Hour." ( (Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images))

Under Armour has dismissed claims of wrongdoing. 

"As we’ve said, Mr. Plank has utilized outside advisors and that’s what these documents show. None of the information was used improperly," a company spokesperson told the WSJ. 

A federal judge in New York has denied a request by shareholders to force Ruhle to provide emails, saying they are protected by reporter’s privilege. 

Ruhle worked at Bloomberg from 2011-2016 and has since been at MSNBC, NBC's left-leaning cable arm.

In 2015, Plank emailed Ruhle to discuss Bloomberg’s coverage of Under Armour and the anchor promised she was "committed to changing it," according to the WSJ. In 2016, the paper reported Plank sent Ruhle an audio recording of an argument he had with the company’s then-chief financial officer over revenue projections.

"Plank told lawyers in his deposition that he made the recording without asking the other executive for permission, and he sent the recording, which contained nonpublic information about Under Armour, to Ruhle without alerting the company’s board," Safdar wrote.

Under Armour spokesman told the WSJ that Plank "testified in his deposition, the recording was made unintentionally and in no way does Mr. Plank record his conversations." 

The WSJ detailed other communications between Plank and Ruhle, and noted that the anchor once questioned a negative Morgan Stanley report about Under Armour on air. 

Bloomberg News and MSNBC declined to comment to the WSJ, while MSNBC did not respond to a request for comment.


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