Jeff Zucker Reassures CNN Staff at Town Hall Over Security Threat

Courtesy of CNN
Jeff Zucker

The CNN president also told staffers that he plans to remain at the network, is not leaving to serve as president of ESPN, and has not had those talks.

At an employees-only town hall meeting on Thursday, CNN president Jeff Zucker addressed a recent security threat against the network and promised to tackle the issue. "Nothing is more important than you feeling safe in the office and in the field," he said, according to employees who viewed the event.

Last week, a Michigan man was arrested for calling CNN headquarters in Atlanta and threatening to kill employees. Zucker said in a memo to staff on Tuesday that CNN "stepped up" the company's security procedures in response to the "significant security threat."

Jeff Gilbert, who heads up the network's security as chief security officer for Turner, told employees to "be vigilant" when wearing the CNN and Turner logo outside of work. He said the network is considering doing active shooter trainings in the network's bureaus, though no decision has yet been made.

Zucker said the recent threat is under federal investigation, so he was limited in what he could say. But, he reiterated that "at no time did CNN feel their people were in jeopardy." He called the threat "a very, very rare occurrence."

He also used the meeting on Thursday to address reports that he's lobbied to become president of ESPN, a position that was vacated recently by John Skipper.

Zucker said he's not leaving and has not had any talks with ESPN or parent company Disney. "I fully intend to stay at CNN and have no desire to work at ESPN," he told his employees.

He also discussed the news that video brand Beme, which the company paid $25 million to acquire, is shutting down. "This was a big bet, and if I had to make the call to make it again, I would," he said. "The only mistake we could make would be to stop taking chances."

In the memo this week on the security risk, Zucker tied the threat to the current climate of hostility toward the media. "Sadly, this is part of the reality we live in, as members of the media," he said. "I want to assure you that at every level of this company, nothing is more important than your safety. While you know we don't talk publicly about security measures, let me assure you that we have addressed this situation."

In his broadcast on Tuesday night, CNN anchor Don Lemon blamed Donald Trump for the threat. "There’s nothing random about this. Nothing," he said on the show. "This is what happens when the president of the United States, Donald Trump, repeatedly attacks members of the press simply for reporting facts he does not like."