“Jeff Zucker, basically the president of CNN, has a personal vendetta against Trump,” proclaimed CNN media coordinator Nick Neville on a James O’Keefe video released on Monday. So CNN’s coverage of Trump “is going to be negative.” According to another CNN staffer caught unawares, Trump is a “monster” and as CNN floor director Hiram Gonzalez says, “we created this monster and now we’re eating a full plate of him every day.” The Project Veritas video also captured a few lines from CNN boss Jeff Zucker his own self.
“Let’s just stay very focused on impeachment,” Zucker says. “We shouldn’t just pretend, oh, this is going one way. And so all of these moves are toward impeachment.” The CNN boss also takes aim at a competitor.
“The fake conspiracy nonsense that Fox has spread for years is now deeply embedded in American society,” Zucker explains. “Frankly, that is beyond destruction for America and I do not think we should be scared to say so.” But it’s not just about Fox and Trump.
“I know that there’s a lot of people at CNN that are friendly with Lindsey Graham,” Zucker tells underlings. “Time to knock that off and it’s time to call him out.”
The revelations would not be surprising to CNN viewers and they failed to draw significant media attention. On the other hand, the recordings validated James O’Keefe, who has been predicting a CNN windfall for some time.
As the Hollywood Reporter noted in February of 2017, O’Keefe teased the release of recordings exposing CNN. “We think our media needs to be held to account,” O’Keefe said, “and CNN is kind of the leader of that.” For his part, Jeff Zucker has been in the news on other fronts.
As Brian Flood noted at Fox News, NBC bosses were struggling with new sexual misconduct allegations against Matt Lauer “but one puzzling question is how Jeff Zucker, Lauer’s boss for many years and the current CNN president, has avoided similar criticisms.” And “Zucker’s network gave his old pal a pass on prime-time coverage of the disgraced anchor’s latest scandal,” the revelations in Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill. NBC covered a claim that Lauer raped an NBC colleague during the 2014 Olympics, but “Zucker’s CNN completely ignored the story during prime time.”
In April, Page Six reported, “Matt Lauer came out of seclusion to celebrate Jeff Zucker’s 54th birthday bash.” Two years earlier, Zucker drew attention from Drew Magary of GQ, in an April 5, 2017 piece headlined, “CNN’s Jeff Zucker Thinks This Is All Just a Game.” Zucker is a big sports fan, and wanted to incorporate elements of ESPN’s programming into CNN’s election coverage. And Zucker sees pro-Trump figures on his panels as “characters in a drama,” and “members of CNN’s extended ensemble cast.”
The New York Times Magazine sent Jonathan Mahler to profile Zucker, explains Magary, and “Mahler deftly allowed this human potato to expose himself as the cynical, chummy, utterly vacant ratings merchant that you always knew he was.” Further, “the brazen vacuity with which Zucker operates CNN makes Rene Russo’s character in Nightcrawler look like a fucking amateur.”
CNN has been plunging in the ratings but as Dylan Byers of NBC News reported on September 24, “Zucker is the leading candidate to become chief executive of WarnerMedia “the new conglomeration owned by AT&T that includes Warner Bros., HBO and Turner Broadcasting.” That choice might be considered strange because “under Zucker’s leadership, NBC went from a leader in TV ratings to last place among its network competitors.”
In 2012, CNN named Zucker president and “While CNN remains behind cable news rivals Fox News and MSNBC in its TV ratings,” Zucker has cemented CNN as brand and helped “double its profits.” And Zucker is “considered a fearless, hard-charging programmer who works around the clock, makes decisions quickly and almost never second-guesses himself.”
According to Monday’s Project Veritas video, Zucker wants all impeachment all the time. So Lindsey Graham and those dramatic pro-Trump panelists are likely to be scarce on CNN. Still, on Monday came a Fox story from Nick Givas headlined, “Pro-Trump CNN contributor says network’s LGBTQ forum revealed Democrats ‘radicalism.’”
The CNN contributor is Steve Cortes, and in an oped for Real Clear Politics he wrote, “Last week the Equality Town Hall held by my network, CNN, plainly revealed the radicalism that drives the Democratic Party today.” The candidates and audience members, “advocated for wholesale government-compelled social engineering to comport with their liberal secular-humanist agenda. Such proposals contravene foundational protections of our Constitution and also imperil Democrats’ electoral prospects for 2020.”
Democrats won’t hear that on CNN, and as President Trump says, we’ll see what happens in 2020. Meanwhile, CNN is not the only impeachment channel, and hardly the only source of fake news. As it also emerged on Monday, ABC News aired a video claiming to show a battle between Kurds and Turkish forces, billed as “CRISIS IN SYRIA. ISIS prisoners escape as death toll rises in attack.”
As it turned out, the video was from a night gun demonstration at the Knob Creek Gun Range in West Point, Kentucky. The story of the fakery came from Fox News, which CNN boss and Matt Lauer pal Jeff Zucker sees as a peddler of “fake conspiracy nonsense” that is “beyond destruction for America.”