CNN’s Zucker: Trump’s attacks ‘badge of honor’ for employees

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CNN president Jeff Zucker says President Trump’s attacks on CNN as “fake news” are a “badge of honor” that has actually boosted employees’ morale. 
“They wear those insults as a badge of honor, because it means they are doing their jobs,” Zucker told reporters over lunch at Time Warner Center in New York on Thursday.
“I would say that morale is incredibly high,” he added. “They are not being intimidated, they are not backing down, they know they have my full support and it is a very exciting time, frankly, to be a journalist at CNN.”
Trump again targeted the network during his Thursday press conference, which included a back-and-forth with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta.  
“Just for the record, we don’t hate you. I don’t hate you. Just wanted to pass that along if I can,” Acosta said before asking the president a question. 
{mosads}Trump responded by telling Acosta to “ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job.”
Acosta and Trump had an explosive confrontation one month earlier at a New York press conference, with Trump calling the reporter and CNN “fake news” and Acosta repeatedly requesting a chance to ask a question. 
Zucker, who took over at CNN in 2013, was president of NBCUniversal when Trump began hosting his reality TV show “The Apprentice” in 2004.
Later in Thursday’s press conference, after Acosta attempted to ask two questions before Trump could respond, the president shot back.
“We do have other people,” Trump said. “Your ratings aren’t as good as the people that are waiting.”
Acosta chuckled before responding, “We’re doing pretty good right now, actually.”
Acosta is correct, as the Trump bump continues to benefit all the major cable news networks. 
CNN’s ratings are considerably up year-over-year from 2016, in January increasing by 38 percent in total viewers and 42 percent in the key 25–54 demographic advertisers covet most. 
“The demand for CNN is incredibly high,” Zucker noted Thursday. “These are very good times for us, and the money is following.”
The network still trails Fox News but sits in second place above MSNBC. 
In leading all cable networks including ESPN in January, Fox News was up 35 percent in prime time viewers, and 46 percent in the key demographic. 
In January, MSNBC jumped 61 percent in total prime time viewers, and 53 percent in total viewers in the key demographic.
The bump is not lost on Trump, who doesn’t miss too many opportunities to note his role in ratings jumps for those who cover him. 
“I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now,” Trump said Thursday. “But I think they’d actually be better [if the media were nicer].”

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