Rumor mill: ESPN eyeing CNN’s Jeff Zucker for top post

NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 29: Jeff Zucker, president of CNN speaks onstage at IGNITION: Future of Media at Time Warner Center on November 29, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Posted Friday, January 19, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Jeff Zucker, president of CNN for five years, is being considered to take over ESPN, according to Deadline.com, citing anonymous sources “close to Zucker.” 

ESPN president John Skipper stepped down abruptly last month, citing a previously unspoken substance abuse problem. 

Deadline.com threw out a few other candidates including Turner Broadcasting President David Levy.

CNN spokeswoman Allison Gollust released this statement: “Jeff loves his job at CNN, and has no interest in running ESPN.”

The story says Zucker’s latest contract is up at the end of 2018. He changed the direction of the cable network, basically focusing on one or two big stories at a time. Early on, that meant a problematic cruise ship and a missing Malaysian plane. Since 2015, it’s been Trump, Trump and more Trump. Ratings have risen accordingly.

President Donald Trump has blamed Zucker for CNN’s anti-Trump focus, feeling betrayed since Zucker helped build Trump’s public persona on “The Apprentice.” And many folks wonder if the AT&T/Time Warner merger has been delayed because of Zucker’s presence at CNN. Trump recently cited CNN for four of his top 10 “Fake Awards” and he has posted memes mocking CNN.

Zucker, as noted by Deadline.com, has lifted the profiles of several on-air anchors, including Brooke Baldwin, Chris CuomoJake Tapper and Don Lemon.

For those who complain that CNN is too narrow, Zucker has pointed out that a broad array of news is available on the expanded CNN.com, which reaches far more people than the cable network.


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