CNN's Jeff Zucker Fires Back at Trump "Trying to Delegitimize Journalism"
"We think that CNN has a job to do, which is to hold their feet to the fire. They may not like it, but they should respect it."
Jeff Zucker knows times have changed and covering Donald Trump will be unorthodox due to the president-elect's disdain for the media, but Zucker's network will be relentless in seeking the truth, the CNN chief said in a recent interview with New York Magazine.
Zucker touched on numerous facets of covering Trump, especially after his network was recently bashed by the former reality TV star as being "fake news" because it reported both Trump and President Obama were briefed by the intelligence community on a Russian dossier with possible damaging information.
CNN did not report what was in the dossier, but BuzzFeed did, prompting Trump to lump both outlets together and brand them incompetent.
"The fact is, the top four intelligence chiefs of the United States decided to include in their briefing to the president and president-elect a two-page summary of allegations involving the president-elect. That is newsworthy by any definition," Zucker said in defense of his network.
"[BuzzFeed] made a decision for themselves, and they have to live with it. I’m not going to pass judgment on their decision. We did not think it was appropriate for us given that we had not been able to corroborate the allegations."
Zucker said it is "sad" — one of Trump's favorite terms when he dislikes something — that the president-elect would try to damage the CNN brand for its responsible reporting because he didn't like the content.
"It’s just unfortunate that the most powerful person in the world is trying to delegitimize journalism and an organization that plays such a vital role in our democracy," Zucker said. "[The Trump administration's] willingness and inclination to cherry-pick facts, conflate and inflate things, will make covering this administration very challenging. That means our role is more important than ever. We think that CNN has a job to do, which is to hold their feet to the fire. They may not like it, but they should respect it."
Zucker, the former president and CEO of NBC Universal, said he does not regret putting Trump's reality show, The Apprentice, on the air, thereby possibly kick-starting his presidential ambitions.
"It’s true I put him on television with The Apprentice in 2004. I’ve never run away from that," he said. "But in no way do I think that’s why he’s the president. You have to give the guy credit. He ran a campaign that worked."
The CNN chief has not talked to Trump for more than a month, he said, but during the campaign, they spoke about once a month.
Read the full interview here.