Jeffery (Jeff) Adam Zucker is the president of CNN. In 2013, at the age of 47, he was handpicked over several other potential candidates, including former Sony CEO Sir Howard Stringer, former NBC news president and current WNYC CEO Neal Shapiro, and former ABC News chief David Westin. This shocked a lot of Hollywood insiders because the other candidates had so much more experience than Zucker.
Nonetheless, Zucker was widely accepted by his colleagues. Anderson Cooper has even called him “the first CNN president to actually watch CNN.” Zucker went on to increase CNN’s ratings by 51% during a time period of declining ratings for most television networks. Zucker wanted to attract the right viewers to his station so, in 2014, he began to start documentary-like programming to compete with the Discovery Channel and A&E. He called the change a “unique attitude and take.” In a December 2013 interview, Zucker told Capital New York reporters, “We’re all regurgitating the same information. I want people to say, ‘You know what? That was interesting. I hadn’t thought of that,’” explaining that, “the goal . . . is that we need more shows and less newscasts.” He began to retool the network into something that was less news and more opinion with shows like Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
At the time, I am sure no one thought anything of it. After all, who are we to question a five-time Emmy Award winner who graduated for Harvard University? Shortly after taking over CNN, Zucker became very hands-on, “always walking through the newsroom and giving direct feedback, . . . email[ing] the anchors and tell[ing] them exactly what he likes,” according to one CNN employee in a 2013 Business Insider interview.
Zucker claimed to encounter little internal resistance to the sweeping changes he planned for the network. However, the truth is that when there was a journalist who opposed the changes Zucker wanted to make, they would get the axe. In the first year alone, Zucker would lay off more than 40 senior journalists. Looking back, it is now clear Zucker was cleaning house of anyone who would question his orders. He used the Ferguson, MO racial tensions to further his grip on the network. At the time, all of CNN’s coverage made those protesting for racial equality and justice look like nothing more than rioters set to burn a city down. He had the news anchors spin the Black Lives Matter movement as a bunch of people who have a problem with society and law enforcement. Zucker even spun the Grand Jury decision in Ferguson to make it look like there was a fair inquisition into the matter when, in reality, the district attorney broke the law by implying to the jury that the federal court can override Missouri law. Under Zucker’s leadership, CNN ignored the wrongdoing in the case and downplayed the racial issues. It should have been clear to us how one-sided CNN had become.
The next two years would see CNN become the powerhouse of cable news, even as it became more biased. When the democratic primary election coverage first began, Jeff Zucker had the superdelegates added into the vote total before a single state had even cast a ballot. Were there anchors and members of the news team who objected to the idea? If there were, their voices were never heard. I am sure fear of losing their jobs like so many of their coworkers did when they stood up to Zucker had something to do with it. Due to this misleading tactic, many American voters came to the conclusion that Hillary had already won before the primary even commenced. I am sure Zucker must have been disappointed to find out that the first primary in Iowa was a virtual tie and Bernie Sanders overwhelmingly won the second primary in New Hampshire. So, with Bernie starting to win big right out of the gate, Zucker chose to respond with a virtual media blackout of Bernie. Instead of focusing news coverage on the most inspirational candidate since JFK, Zucker had CNN put all their attention on Trump. Over the next several weeks, CNN bought a ticket on the Donald Trump train. At every chance, Zucker’s network would either ignore Bernie or downplay him as a fringe candidate, even when Bernie scored big wins in some states’ primaries, all the while turning CNN’s news coverage into a Donald Trump reality TV show. If a viewer did not pay attention to the bigger picture, they may not have realized what Zucker’s motivation was. For the more astute watcher, it quickly became blatantly obvious.
On April 26, CNN’s senior social media director, Samantha Barry, made a surprise announcement about the network at the 2016 Collision tech conference, explaining to her audience, according to coverage by NetNewsCheck, “We’re no longer a TV news network. We’re a 24-hour global multiplatform network” and that “for each new platform on which CNN expands, the endgame isn’t the number of followers it accrues, but how successfully it insinuates itself into users’ habits across age groups and demographics.” Barry emphasized, “Habit is a metric of success we’re going after on all of these platforms.” CNN is literally trying to change from being a news outlet to platform that will be everywhere and anywhere to tell us what to think and who to vote for.
CNN is owned by Time Warner Cable. Of course, Time Warner is one of Hillary Clinton’s top ten donors, having contributed over one million dollars to make sure she is the democratic nominee through direct donations to the campaign and donations to her Super PACs. As the first two primary results showed, Time Warner could not buy the election with donations alone. Instead, they used Zucker as a puppet to make sure Hillary stayed in the spotlight and Bernie was kept out. Well, Zucker, the ruse is up. We know what you are up to. You have made a mockery of the news, turning what was once the gold standard of news coverage into little more than a farce that any educated viewer can clearly see through. Zucker, you have allowed the powerhouse of cable television news to turn into the Clinton News Network, nothing more than a puppet for the elite.