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CNN worldwide president Jeff Zucker opened his remarks at Turner’s press lunch by urging the journalists in the room to take a brief hiatus from the flurry of White House news.
He asked those gathered to take note that CNN en Espanol was taken off the air by the Venezuelan government after it reported that Venezuela was selling visas, possibly to terrorists, and that the scheme went all the way to the vice president’s office.
“Everyone in this room should be concerned about this,” said Zucker. “That’s what happens when an authoritarian regime [targets] a network because they don’t like our journalism.”
Zucker also addressed the unofficial CNN ban imposed by the White House on Jake Tapper’s Sunday show State of the Union.
“It has not hurt CNN in any way,” said Zucker, noting that during the three weeks since the ban was imposed, State of the Union has bested its cable news competition. “Our journalism has been leading the way in coverage of this administration.”
Zucker, who as chief of NBC greenlighted Trump’s The Apprentice, said he has not fielded any complaints from the president since mid-December.
Zucker also addressed the network’s decision not to have Kellyanne Conway on SOTU because “we had questions about of her credibility.”
Conway has had a series of questionable interviews on the topic of the resignation of Michael Flynn, during which she contradicted statements made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Conway has since been on the network in an infamous 20-minute interview with Tapper. And Zucker did not rule out having her back: “if it’s relevant we’ll have her on.”
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