Zucker takes on critics

CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker answered some questions from The Wrap concerning some of his more “controversial” changes at CNN:

In terms of the broader CNN, it seems anchors like Don Lemon and Jake Tapper seem comfortable showing more of themselves and their opinion. Does that come from you?

It doesn’t come from me urging them to do it, but it comes from knowledge on their part that we’re comfortable with it. I hope I’ve encouraged an atmosphere were they know that is OK, and we’re comfortable with it. I think that’s made CNN better. I think what Jake did in Paris; what Jake did in calling out folks who didn’t vaccinate their children; I think Chris Cuomo’s 25-minute, uninterrupted interview with the Chief Judge in Alabama is another example of it. Anderson Cooper’s on-air reaction to Bob Simon’s death; Wolf Blitzer personalizing his experience in going back to Auschwitz where his grandparents lost their lives — I think that has all made our air more authentic.


In previous years, critics said CNN was stuck in the 20th century of news, without a real identity in the increasingly partisan news world. What’s your identity now?

News. New. I believe we have reestablished the brand identity that this is the place for news. When the Paris terror attacks happen, when war breaks out in Ukraine, when unrest happens in Ferguson, people know that CNN is the place to come. News is our brand, and I think we’re doing more news in the morning, we’re doing more news all day, we’re doing news. We’ve added in the last year, five hours of additional news by doing news from 12 midnight to 5 a.m., so there’s more news on the network, so that has helped. We are basically doing live news 22 out of 24 hours a day. Everyone said we were getting out of news. We doubled-down on news.

Are programs with Anthony Bourdain and Bill Weir traveling around the world in some ways redefining news by going out and finding interesting stories?

Yes and no. We’re just broadening the definition of what news is. We have doubled down on covering news, especially global international crises, but at the same time, we’ve also introduced this original series strategy that is not entertainment. It’s informative, educational, interesting; you learn as much from Anthony Bourdain, or Bill Weir, or Morgan Spurlock as anything else. I think we’ve been willing to broaden out what we define as news, and I think that’s allowed us to do series like Weir, Spurlock, Bourdain and Lisa Ling. And I think that’s really helped.

As your numbers go up, why has Fox and MSNBC’s numbers gone down?

Listen, we should only have Fox News’ numbers. We’d be thrilled to have Fox’s numbers, and they deserve a lot of credit. With regards to MSNBC, I can’t speak to why they’ve declined dramatically — we’re just focused on what we’re doing here now.

You can read the full piece at The Wrap.


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