Jeff Zucker Congratulates Staff on 'Evolving' CNN, 'Sixties' Ratings, V.A. Coverage

In a company-wide Friday memo, the network president calls out a 9 p.m. demo win and tells staffers "we have seen the true scope of what CNN is and can be."
AP Photo/Peter Kramer
Jeff Zucker

CNN's 9 p.m. hour, in a sort of limbo post-Piers Morgan, got a shot in the arm on Thursday night. The premiere episode of Playtone (Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman) and Mark Herzog's The Sixties won the news demo, besting Fox News Channel and MSNBC, nearly tripling its average showing in the time slot over the past month.

A 10 p.m. encore lost little steam -- the two showings averaged a respective 284,000 and 243,000 viewers -- again topping its two most relevant rivals among adults 25-54. Network president Jeff Zucker took the good news, as well as the latest development in the Veterans Affairs healthcare scandal, to congratulate the staff in a company-wide Friday memo.

"I wanted to take a moment to tell you how proud I am to work at CNN today," writes Zucker. "Because today we have seen the true scope of what CNN is and can be."

Friday brought the resignation of embattled Veterans Affairs secretary Eric Shinseki, the latest development after CNN's Drew Griffin broke the scandal about care and wait times at veterans' hospitals. Zucker commended Griffin and his team on "outstanding, months-long reporting."

As for The Sixties, the first of 12 installments was an even bigger boon to total viewers. Though it did not edge past FNC's Kelly File at 10 p.m., it was improved 312 percent for the time period with 1.4 million.

Zucker's full memo below:

I wanted to take a moment to tell you how proud I am to work at CNN today.

Because today we have seen the true scope of what CNN is and can be.

Outstanding, months-long reporting on the VA story by the team of Drew Griffin, Nelli Black, Scott Bronstein and Curt Devine is what exposed a terrible situation at the Veterans Administration.  And while their goal was never to force anyone’s resignation, our goal is always to hold officials responsible for wrongdoing.  The commitment of AC 360 to “Keeping Them Honest” and our investigative team is what exposed the multitude of problems at the VA.

I wanted to take this moment to thank Drew and his team, Patricia DiCarlo at the investigative unit, the team at AC 360, as well as Richard Griffiths, Lee Williams and Steve Holmes for helping shepherd this incredibly important story.

This is what CNN is about.

At the same time, CNN is now also about all types of storytelling.  And we proved that again last night with the successful launch of the new CNN Original Series, The Sixties.  I want to congratulate Amy Entelis, Vinnie Malhotra and Lizzie Kerner for their exemplary work in bringing this series to life.  And to the entire marketing and communications teams for making sure that the world knew it was there. What began last night, and will unfold over the course of the next 11 weeks, is what the audience also wants and expects from us.

CNN is evolving. Our commitment to news, investigative journalism and inspired storytelling is what we are all about.