Zucker on CNN coverage: ‘We were not anti-Trump, we were pro-truth’
Former CNN President Jeff Zucker addressed his time at the helm of the media company on Friday, saying that it was not “anti-Trump,” an assertion that is directly contrary to former President Trump’s attacks.
“As I said all the time, we were not anti-Trump. We were pro-truth,” he said of CNN’s coverage of the former president.
“If that came off as anti-Trump because he didn’t tell the truth, I’m not going to apologize for that.”
Trump routinely hit CNN, accusing the outlet of being “fake news.”
At one point, CNN correspondent Jim Acosta was barred from the White House after a confrontation with Trump over migrant caravans at the U.S. southern border during a press conference.
Zucker, who resigned from CNN in February after failing to disclose a romantic relationship with a senior executive at the company, said that he believes the media needs to take a critical stance toward both sides of the political aisle.
“You gotta hold both sides accountable. And kick the shit out of both sides,” he said.
However, the former executive remarked that he does not believe that holding both sides accountable means lending equal legitimacy to ideologies on the right and left of the political spectrum.
“Hold both sides accountable, but recognize that on certain issues like democracy and the future of democracy and whether the election was stolen, there’s not two sides,” said Zucker.
Zucker disagreed with former MSNBC President Phil Griffin’s approach to avoid platforming Trump because of his regular false claims.
“I think too if he’s speaking and lying when he’s speaking, or just passing along misinformation, he’s still the president of the United States. And I do think there’s a little bit of a responsibility to cover the president of the United States,” the former CNN chief said.
The panel, moderated by centrist radio host Michael Smerconish, also discussed whether Trump will run in the 2024 presidential election.
“I don’t know, but I assume that he will run,” Zucker said in response to a question.
“And I think that we have to take into account that he’s done a lot to undermine democracy and that has to be taken into account in the coverage if he becomes a candidate. And I don’t think anybody can be afraid of that or pull any punches.”
Zucker added that he believes that the media “won’t be as vigorous as it should be with regard to that.”
Trump recently filed a law suit against CNN, alleging the news network used its “massive influence” to defame him with a “barrage of negative associations and innuendos.”