With people crying “fake news” every minute and shifts and scandals hovering over WarnerMedia, Jeff Zucker had a lot say when he took the stage for a conversation with Vanity Fair‘s Joe Pompeo at SXSW.
As the newly minted chairman of WarnerMedia News & Sports and president of CNN, Zucker talked about his new role at WarnerMedia, coverage of the upcoming 2020 election, and a certain POTUS who tried to block the AT&T merger.
Zucker did not mince words about how the Department of Justice tried to overturn the AT&T merger, and said that, “It came from the president.”
“There was absolutely no basis to be doing what they were doing and clearly there was a political agenda at work,” he said.
He later added that Trump and his party have contacted him in the past two years about CNN’s coverage, and when Pompeo asked to elaborate, Zucker kept it short and said, “He’s complained.”
Zucker said he is excited about his new role at WarnerMedia, but insists that it will not affect his role at CNN, saying that he has “the capacity to handle both.” When it comes to coverage, he said that CNN gets attached to a connotation of cable news networks, but is not interested in “partisan food fights” and the tweet of the day.
And when it comes to the upcoming 2020 election, coverage is going to be paramount, and he wants CNN to focus on policy. “I want to make sure we are not afraid of having that policy conversation,” he said, adding that CNN is doing serious journalism and it has been clear in their recent town hall meetings. “There’s a whole buffet of issues that are going to be critical to the next election,” he said.
When it comes to the DNC refusing to give Fox News a debate, Zucker was blunt and said, “I don’t think anyone has the right or obligation to give an outlet a debate.”
He adds, “I think the consternation about this is a little misplaced. They don’t have to give one to CNN, they don’t have to give one to MSNBC. There’s no obligation to give one to Fox.”
He went on to say, “I’ve said before that Fox is state-run TV. The question should be, ‘Is the White House state-run government by Fox TV?’ “