CNN president Zucker claims credibility ‘higher than ever’ despite dossier controversy
“I think our credibility is higher than ever, and our viewership is higher than ever, and our reporting is as strong as ever,” Jeff Zucker said in an interview with Gabriel Sherman at New York Magazine, published on Wednesday.
His comment comes at a time when CNN’s credibility is actually under scrutiny. CNN appeared at the center of a fake news controversy, having reported on an unverified memo that suggested that the Russian government is blackmailing President-elect Trump with compromising personal and financial information about him and that he has deep ties with the Russian government.
In a press-conference that followed shortly afterwards, Trump slammed CNN as “disgraceful” and also called Buzzfeed, another news network that published a report on the controversial memos, as “a failing pile of garbage.” The leader-in-waiting then refused to take a question from a CNN reporter during his first press conference since July.
“Be quiet. I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news,” Trump said.
Trump later said that intelligence insiders confirmed to him that the much-hyped dossier, alleging that Moscow has compromising evidence on him, was a fake.
Moreover, the rift between the incoming US president and the network started long before this latest episode – Trump repeatedly called out CNN along with other major US news outlets for biased reporting on him in the run-up to November’s presidential election. Information released by WikiLeaks ahead of the elections also showed the network consistently attempting to help Trump’s rival Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign.
Zucker acknowledged that Trump hasn’t done an interview with CNN in some eight months now, but claimed that he will eventually come to terms with the network, as it is the one that “shapes the perception of Donald Trump in capitals around the world.”
“It doesn’t worry me that Donald Trump hasn’t done an interview with CNN in eight months […]
“One of the things I think this administration hasn’t figured out yet is that there’s only one television network that is seen in Beijing, Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo, Pyongyang, Baghdad, Tehran and Damascus — and that’s CNN. The perception of Donald Trump in capitals around the world is shaped, in many ways, by CNN. Continuing to have an adversarial relationship with that network is a mistake,” Zucker stated.
“It’s just unfortunate that the most powerful person in the world is trying to delegitimize journalism and an organization that plays such a vital role in our democracy. I think he’s entitled to his opinion, but it’s — to use one of his favorite words — sad,” he added.
Regarding the recent rift with Trump, Zucker said that publishing the report on an unconfirmed dossier was worth the trouble in terms of news value.
“I actually think this was a pretty easy call in terms of its news value. The fact is, the top four intelligence chiefs of the United States decided to include in their briefing to the president and president-elect a two-page summary of allegations involving the president-elect. That is newsworthy by any definition,” he explained.
The report resulted in a full scale war breaking out on Twitter between Trump’s supporters and those who took the side of the MSM following the scandal.
While the anti-Trump community thanked the press for “hammering” the president-elect and called him a “dictator,” Trump’s supporters praised how he “demolished” the “manipulative national media.”