Johnita Due named SVP and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, WarnerMedia

On Monday, Jeff Zucker announced his first new executive appointment at WarnerMedia News and Sports since he got his promotion to WarnerMedia News and Sports chief. Johnita Due, formerly the lead editorial attorney for CNN Digital, CNN Films, CNN Sports, CNN Business, CNN Health, as well as domestic morning programming, has been named senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer at WarnerMedia News and Sports.

“I am so pleased to make this announcement and welcome Johnita to the leadership team. Johnita is someone who is well respected by employees and managers alike throughout CNN and WarnerMedia for not only her legal guidance and editorial insights but also for her diversity and inclusion leadership,” said Zucker. “I am thrilled she has agreed to transition legal responsibilities so she can lead the diversity efforts.”

In addition to serving as CNN’s chief diversity advisor for eight years, she most recently co-chaired the Turner business resource group BlackProfessionals@Turner and has been leading a Turner-wide task force on African-American retention and advancement.

Due said, “In the midst of our corporate changes to align with WarnerMedia’s goals, it’s more important than ever to ensure that diversity and inclusion remain business priorities. I am proud of Jeff’s commitment to this area and the significant gains made by CNN to develop and showcase diverse voices that reflect our audiences and to produce content that not only resonates with all audiences but also makes a difference in society. I am looking forward to furthering Jeff’s vision for his organization around transparency, recruitment, and development which will benefit all employees and the business overall.”

In accepting Fred Dressler Leadership Award Award, CNN chief Jeff Zucker says “The truth is under assault; We are certainly not the enemy of the people.”

Thursday in New York, WarnerMedia news chairman Jeff Zucker was honored with the Fred Dressler Leadership Award at the annual Mirror Awards ceremony, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

Some of Zucker’s talent put together a tribute video, honoring their CNN boss.

“I said to him one time, ‘You are the only boss I’ve had who is ballsier than I am,’ and I really meant it,” The Lead anchor and Chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper said of Zucker.

Chris Cuomo agreed: “He completely changed CNN.” He also ribbed him, saying, “One of his best skills is the ability to not seem as short as he actually is.”

Nodding to Zucker’s past comments about maybe seeking political office, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said, “The more awards he can get before his mayoral campaign, the better.”

“I’ve had this most blessed career, but none of it compares to the work we are doing right now at CNN,” Zucker said. “Sadly, the truth is under assault,” he said. “The press is under attack from the most powerful people in the world, and that is wrong and it is dangerous. These are the times that call for leadership. I am proud to stand up for the truth, I am proud to stand up for the free press. We are certainly not the enemy of the people.”

Zucker also apparently stepped in it when talking to New Day host Alisyn Camerota, who emceed the event. “I was gonna say that I love waking up WITH YOU every morning, but I want to say that I love waking up TO YOU every morning.” THR’s Jeremy Barr reports there were groans in the room when he made that remark.

CNN prepares to layoff 300: report

Just as CNN has adjusted to its place inside WarnerMedia, under its new corporate master AT&T, FTVLive today is reporting CNN is preparing to part with 300 staffers. Approximately 100 will be offered a buyout package, per the report, and 200 will simply be pinkslipped.

The changes are anticipated to affect the veterans inside the company, who have long served CNN.

Just earlier this morning, CNN finished the move of almost all its staffers to Hudson Yards from Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, and some shows have begun broadcasting from there as well.

A source reached out to me to confirm the news, adding that CNN International chief Tony Maddox was among the ones accepting a buyout. “After 21 years I am leaving CNN. It has been the honor of my life to work for, and then lead CNN International. What a privilege to make a living doing such important work with truly outstanding people,” the executive said in an email to colleagues.

More to come…

CNN president Jeff Zucker adds Turner Sports to his portfolio

As part of widespread restructuring at WarnerMedia following AT&T acquiring it, CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker is reportedly going to gain oversight of Turner Sports. As the reports note, this will consolidate basically all of Turner’s live programming output.

Zucker didn’t respond to a request for comment. A CNN spokeswoman declined to comment.

David Levy, the president of Turner, had supervision of its sports properties, but has announced his intention to leave. Zucker previously oversaw NBC Sports’ through his role as the head of NBC Universal.

Despite saying he wouldn’t spin off CNN, new filings say AT&T CEO floated idea of spinning network off

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said that he would never sell CNN as a condition of purchasing Time Warner. Yet a report from Bloomberg paints a different picture.

The AT&T executive said, “There is absolutely no intention that we would ever sell CNN.”

But in the Bloomberg report, he raised the possibility of selling CNN during a November meeting with the Justice Department’s antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, according to the CEO’s deposition cited by the government in a court filing Thursday.

According to a transcript, he was questioned by a Justice Department lawyer about the meeting with Delrahim.

“And during that meeting, you raised the subject of CNN?” the Justice Department lawyer said.

“I did,” Stephenson said.

“OK. And you were the first one to raise the subject of CNN?”

“Oh, yeah,” said Stephenson, who went on to say, “I asked Mr. Delrahim, I think my language, this will be pretty close: ‘If I were to walk in here tomorrow and tell you I had gotten my head around selling CNN, would that allow you to wave this deal through?’”

More Tapper is on the way

This year, you can expect one thing: more Jake Tapper.

Variety is reporting that CNN will be trimming back the commercials during his afternoon program The Lead as well as his Sunday political affairs program State of the Union.

“It’s a first step,” acknowledged Katrina Cukaj, executive vice president of portfolio sales and client partnerships for Turner Ad Sales, in an interview.

“We’ve done it in pockets,” she said of the limited commercial interruption strategy, such as when breaking news occurs. “This is the first time we will be doing it consistently.”

If the strategy proves attractive, she said, CNN might consider using it in other programs.

Pro-Erdogan firm buys CNN Turk’s parent company: report

CNN Turk, which is jointly-owned by Turner Broadcasting International and Dogan Media Holdings, is about to have a new co-owner, reports Reuters.

Turkey’s Demiroren Holding has agreed to buy the media arm of Dogan Holding, a Demiroren official told Reuters. Demiroren is seen as an unlisted firm backing President Tayyip Erdogan, and has agreed to buy broadcaster CNN Turk, an official said, a deal that could further cement media support for the government.

“The talks are progressing and an agreement has been made on the acquisition,” the official said.

TBS manager, who never worked for CNN, launches discrimination suit against TBS & CNN

TMZ reports that a mid-level quality assurance manager, Wanda Byrd, is suing TBS for racial discrimination — and lumping CNN in with it, even though she’s never worked for the news network.

Both properties are owned by Turner Broadcasting.

Byrd says she was passed over for a promotion to a senior level position at TBS, and claims a less-skilled and qualified white man got it.

She wants to make this a class action suit against TBS, CNN and Time Warner, TMZ notes.

TMZ reached out to both TBS and CNN for comment but didn’t receive one.