CNN President Jeff Zucker Says He's "Still Interested" in Running for Political Office

CNN President Jeff Zucker attends CNN Heroes Gala 2016 - Getty-EMBED 2018
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

CNN president Jeff Zucker described the current media climate as "the heyday of cable news, there's no question" during a March 22 conference held by the Financial Times

He also said he "never was aware" of Matt Lauer's misbehavior during their time together at NBC.

In a wide-ranging podcast interview with one of his employees, CNN president Jeff Zucker revealed to The Axe Files host David Axelrod that he still wants to run for political office at some point.

"I still harbor somewhere in my gut that I'm still very interested in politics," he said in the interview, published Monday.

Zucker said he's "still interested" in running for office, adding, "It's something I would consider." (He also repeated twice during the 69-minute-long podcast that he'd love to run the Miami Dolphins football team in the future.)

"Gimme a call if you're thinking about it," said Axelrod, who helped run Barack Obama's winning 2008 presidential campaign and later served in the White House.

Zucker was candid and forthcoming throughout the interview, though he chose his words carefully when asked about the accusations of sexual misconduct that led to Matt Lauer's termination from the Today show last year.

The former NBC president and CEO pointed out that his tenure at the network only overlapped with Lauer's tenure as co-host of Today for a few years in the late 1990s. "In those three or four years that I was there, I saw absolutely no evidence of that, heard nothing of the sort," Zucker said of the misconduct allegations.

While Zucker said he "never was aware" of Lauer's rumored behavior, he added, "Obviously, you can't condone any of this behavior. If we had been aware of any of it, we would have dealt with it immediately."

Speaking more broadly about the #MeToo movement and the history of bad behavior in the media, advertising and entertainment industries toward women, the exec said, "There was a long-held sentiment that that was OK. It clearly was not OK. ... That was the world that existed. I do think that there has been a tremendous change. There's much more recognition that bad behavior was going on and could not be tolerated."

Zucker also spoke to Axelrod about his health scares, including two bouts of colon cancer and an open-heart surgery (not to mention gout, kidney stones and Bell's palsy).

"I do understand how lucky I am to be alive," he said. "I think there's many times when I probably could have died. I know I'm lucky to be alive, and that has given me tremendous perspective. I don't take any of this for granted."

Zucker also addressed President Donald Trump's animosity toward him and the network he runs, which he said stems in part from their long history as business partners (on The Apprentice) and as friends.

"He thought CNN should give him a pass because we were friends," said Zucker. "He thought that CNN should be like Fox News and just give him glowing coverage all the time. So, I think he does hold that against me and CNN."

The network president also said that Trump trains his attention (and attacks) on CNN specifically because the network attracts "a disproportionate amount of swing and independent voters that frankly MSNBC doesn't have and that he would like" as supporters.