CNN President Jeff Zucker has confirmed he will stay on at the network’s helm until the end of 2021, when his contract runs out, having u-turned on his decision late last year to leave the mainstream media outlet.
“I cannot imagine not being here right now,” Jeff Zucker told colleagues on Thursday morning, according to those present on the call. “I’m going to stay and finish my current contract, which, as I said, will keep me here until the end of this year. At that point, I do expect to move on.”
The truth is, back in November and December I had basically decided that it was time to move on now… But since then I’ve had a change of heart. And I want to stay – not forever, but for another year.
Zucker’s decision ends months of industry speculation about his likely departure from the 40-year-old network, which hit its highest ever viewership in November amid the US presidential election. Despite a positive end to 2020, the new year has started badly for the network, with primetime ratings falling by around 44 percent after President Joe Biden took office. Chief MSM rivals MSNBC and Fox experienced much smaller drops in viewing numbers.
The former NBC veteran took over at CNN in 2013, tasked with carving out a stronger identity for the network against liberal MSNBC and conservative Fox. Much of Zucker’s tenure coincided with Donald Trump’s first run for the White House and his years as president.
Under Zucker, CNN took on a more adversarial stance to the president, providing prime time slots to anti-Trump pundit’s during his administration. Trump in turn frequently blasted CNN’s reporting as “fake news.”
AT&T’s recent acquisition of CNN as part of its Time Warner deal reportedly led to tensions among some of the top brass, with Zucker allegedly stripped of some of his responsibilities at the network last year, such as overseeing human resources.
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