* Former President of CNN Worldwide
* Detests Donald Trump and his political allies
Jeffrey Zucker was born to Jewish parents on April 9, 1965 in Homestead, Florida. He attended Harvard University, where he was president of the school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, and graduated in 1986 with a B.A. in American History. Upon completing his education, Zucker was hired by NBC Universal as a researcher for the network’s scheduled coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics. Zucker continued to work for NBC Universal in a variety of positions — including high-level executive posts like President and CEO – until 2010. When Comcast acquired 51% of NBC Universal in 2010, Zucker was paid between $30 million and $40 million to leave NBC. He then worked a brief stint as producer of Katie, a Disney-ABC Domestic Television talk show starring Katie Couric, before becoming the President of CNN Worldwide on January 1, 2013.
When Al Gore ran for the White House in 2000 he offered Zucker a position in his presidential administration, though it never materialized because Gore lost the election that November. In 2008, Zucker donated money to Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign. And in 2013, Zucker’s son Andrew worked briefly for Democrat U.S. Senator Cory Booker.
In 2004 Zucker and his then-wife attended a dinner party in San Francisco, where, Zucker later recalled, the city’s then-district attorney, Kamala Harris “really knocked our socks off.” So impressed with Harris was Zucker, that in 2009 he hosted a “power breakfast” at New York’s Rockefeller Center in order to introduce Harris to some of the city’s most prominent and influential people. “Kamala is not just important for the city of San Francisco, the state of California,” Zucker told those in attendance, “but for the entire country.” “This is in fact the first time I’ve ever done one of these [power breakfasts],” Zucker added, “and that’s because I have a very, very strict policy because of my job. I’ve taken a position that I completely stay out of supporting candidates of any party and try to stay out of politics entirely.”
In 2019, Cary Poarch, an employee at CNN’s Washington, D.C. Bureau, contacted Project Veritas, which uses undercover investigative journalism to expose political and media corruption, and offered to “wear a hidden camera … to expose the bias running rampant” at CNN. Over the course of several months, Poarch compiled undercover audio and video footage of numerous long-term employees at CNN, some of whom spoke candidly about Zucker’s hatred for President Donald Trump. In one video clip, for instance, CNN media coordinator Nick Neville stated: “Jeff Zucker – basically president of CNN – has a personal vendetta against Trump. Your own biases are gonna be there. They’re going to seep into what you think, they’re gonna seep into what you say, so if Jeff Zucker like blatantly hates Trump, and he runs CNN (which he does) … it’s not gonna be positive for Trump. He hates him [Trump]. It’s gonna be negative!”
In another clip, CNN media coordinator Christian Sierra recounted an instance where, while host Jake Tapper was on the air conducting a contentious interview with White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, Zucker entered the control room and told the program’s executive producer to skip commercials and continue grilling Conway, because Zucker wanted to “just fu**ing nail her.” Added Sierra:
In recordings of conversations between Zucker and CNN staffers, Zucker could be heard saying things like this:
Zucker’s contempt for Trump also manifested itself in CNN’s overwhelmingly negative coverage of the President and members of his administration, coverage that frequently featured demonstrably false information. Journalist Sharyl Attkisson has documented numerous instances of such bias. Some examples:
On another occasion, in July 2018, CNN falsely claimed that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, was prepared to tell special counsel investigators that the President had known in advance about a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between his son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russia lawyer.
In October 2019, CNN published a “fact check” claiming that President Trump had grossly exaggerated the depleted state of America’s munitions stockpile when he was first sworn into office, and also his impact on the subsequent rebuild of that stockpile. But in its presentation, CNN completely omitted a large amount of data provided by a Heritage Foundation defense analyst demonstrating that Trump’s assertions were absolutely accurate.
In light of CNN’s long history of inaccuracies and dishonesty vis-a-vis President Trump and other conservatives, liberal attorney Alan Dershowitz said in July 2019: “[Zucker] has destroyed CNN. He has made it impossible for people to hear two sides of a view or any side of a view other than Jeff Zucker’s view, and that’s not the way television should operate…. [Viewers are] not getting analysis or reporting; they’re getting wishful thinking, and that’s not a substitute for hard news.”
On December 1, 2020, Project Veritas released a batch of new audio clips that it had secretly recorded over a period of two months, of CNN’s daily 9 a.m. rundown telephone conference calls in which Zucker and several other CNN executives had given voice to their extreme political biases against President Trump and conservatives. Some examples of what these individuals had said in those calls:
In response to the foregoing recordings, Project Veritas founder and CEO James O’Keefe said: “These statements made by high-up executives at CNN prove that they are simply not interested in being unbiased when reporting on the news. CNN likes to call themselves ‘the most trusted name in news,’ but how can the public ever trust a network that routinely bashes people simply because those people hold certain political views that are not aligned with the mainstream media?”
On December 2, 2020, Project Veritas released a second tranche of audio clips from Zucker’s 9 a.m. conference calls, where, as James O’Keefe explained, “Zucker orders his people to suppress some stories—not because they are false—but because they will hurt his political agenda.” Following are some examples from a discussion about how CNN should avoid publicizing an October 2020 New York Post report indicating that emails stored on the laptop computer of Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, contained evidence of massive financial malfeasance in the Biden family’s dealings with a Ukrainian gas company named Burisma Holdings:
The same batch of audio clips released on December 2, 2020 by Project Veritas contained audio of Zucker and staffers deciding not to cover stories of alleged ballot irregularities and voter fraud that had occurred in the 2020 presidential election of November 3:
In another audio clip released by Project Veritas on December 2, 2020, CNN Senior Vice President and Managing Director Cynthia Hudson said the following about Cuban-Americans’ strong support for President Trump:
“Trump has used the communism, socialism, rhetoric as part of his hook for the Cubans in Miami, how that has resonated and how the Biden team, has not done enough to counter that. This is all that, that the only reason [Cubans in Miami] are supporting Trump is because of that [‘Biden is a socialist’] narrative—and that narrative, and the fact that sadly, I have to say, there’s a [Cuban] population that’s very attracted to bullies…. No one is countering it properly in Florida, the Cubans are going to vote for Trump and that’s terrifying.”
On February 2, 2022, Zucker resigned from his post at CNN after acknowledging that he had failed to disclose a long-term affair he had been conducting with the network’s chief marketing officer, Allison Gollust, who had previously served as communications director for former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years,” Zucker, without explicitly naming Gollust, wrote in a memo to CNN staffers. “I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today.” Upon Zucker’s departure, he was replaced at CNN by executive vice presidents Michael Bass, Amy Entelis, and Ken Jautz.
But Zucker’s explanation for his sudden decision to step down from CNN was highly misleading, particularly in light of the fact that his relationship with Gollust had long been known about in media circles. As New York magazine put it: “Zucker and Gollust’s relationship was one of the biggest open secrets in media. CNN staffers awkwardly navigated the pairing, since every time they dealt with her, they were keenly aware that she was involved with the boss. They were rolling their eyes at Gollust’s own statement that said ‘recently, our relationship changed during Covid.’ It had been going on for much longer: Page Six would wink at it from time to time, and the two have known each other since they worked together at NBC decades ago.”
In reality, Zucker’s resignation came as part of an agreement he negotiated with John Stankey, the chief executive officer of AT&T, which owned CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia. Under the terms of that agreement, Zucker would quietly and compliantly leave CNN while Stankey, in turn, would give a $9 million payoff to former CNN host Chris Cuomo, to prevent the latter from moving forward with a threatened lawsuit against CNN. It was expected that Cuomo, if he were to move forward with that suit, was prepared to reveal details of how Zucker and Gollust in 2020 had unethically: (a) coached then-New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on how to best handle his televised COVID-19 press briefings, and (b) advised the governor on how he could respond to criticisms from President Trump in a manner that would maximally enhance his (Cuomo’s) public image. “Jeff cut a deal to say ‘I’ll leave, and you settle with Cuomo,’” a source told the New York Post. “He [Zucker] thought AT&T would fight a lawsuit and it would go public otherwise.”