Jeff Zucker: President Trump’s Attacks Haven’t Hurt CNN’s Brand

Jeff Zucker: President Trump's Attacks Haven't

President Trump’s steady stream of attacks on CNN’s credibility has not hurt the news organization’s reputation in the minds of consumers, nor has it scared away any advertisers. That was the word from CNN president Jeff Zucker and top Turner execs Thursday at a state-of-the-company luncheon presentation in Manhattan.

Zucker said CNN conducted its largest-ever brand survey last month out of a desire to gauge whether Trump’s broadsides about CNN serving up “fake news” were having a lasting impact on prospective viewers.

“There has been no diminution whatsoever in the CNN brand,” Zucker said. “It’s as strong as it’s ever been. It’s incredibly trusted and we see no impact whatsoever in all of those attacks on the CNN brand.”

Turner president David Levy said there have been no advertiser pullouts, either. CNN has seen its ad revenue spike along with ratings as the public continues to remain heavily engaged in politics and the latest moves of the new administration. “We’ve not had one question” from advertisers, Levy said. “We’re having another record quarter as we speak.”

Related

Donald Trump press conference

President Donald Trump Says News Media Is ‘Out of Control’

Zucker said CNN’s overall viewership for the first seven weeks of the year was up 51% compared to the same period in 2016. Despite the polarization laid bare by the presidential election, CNN enjoys a broad base of viewers. “I don’t think we could be up 51% and that could all be folks who don’t like Donald Trump,” he said. “It is a cross-section of the country.” He added that CNN reporters have been “very committed” to covering the disconnect in the country, outside of the fracas in Washington, between Trump supporters and detractors.

Also top of mind for Zucker was the danger to press freedom around the world posed by the Venezuelan government’s decision on Wednesday to yank the linear feed of CNN Español from the country’s airwaves. Zucker said the government was also threatening to take down the English-language feed of CNN, the feed to CNN Chile, and to block the CNN Español website and YouTube channels. The battle was sparked by CNN Español’s recent report on a counterfeit passport ring alleged to have ties that run high up into the Venezuelan government.

“When an authoritarian regime starts taking down feeds and blocking websites just because we expose the truth … that’s an attack on freedom of the press everywhere,” Zucker said. “When authoritarian regimes around the world start attacking journalists like that, we all have a problem.”

Turner chairman-CEO John Martin and Giorgio Stock, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa for Turner’s international arm, weighed in during a Q&A session with reporters on everything from Time Warner’s pending merger with AT&T to the surprising success of Turner’s ELeague video game competition venture with IMG.

Related

Venezuelan Government Pulls Plug on CNN

Given the state of politics at home, it was no surprise that most of the two dozen or so reporters in the room directed most of the questions to Zucker and CNN’s coverage of the administration that continues to defy convention. Zucker said he hadn’t spoken to the President since sometime in December, when Trump last called the CNN chief to complain about coverage. (Zucker and Trump’s ties go back to the dawn of “The Apprentice” on NBC when Zucker was running the Peacock’s TV operations.)

Zucker disputed the notion that the Trump administration has enacted a “ban” on officials appearing on CNN shows. He said the flap arose earlier this month when the White House made Vice President Mike Pence available to CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox’s Sunday morning public affairs shows but not to CNN’s “State of the Union.” The White House has shunned “State of the Union” for the past three Sundays, but “let’s see what happens this week,” Zucker added.

In a sign of the times, while Zucker was being pressed on the impact of Trump’s CNN-bashing, the President was holding a press conference where he further blasted mainstream media coverage of his administration, including a lengthy exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta about the difference between “fake news” and “real leaks.”

Jake Tapper had a memorable session last week with presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway, who has become a lightning rod for criticism and questions about her veracity given her recent history of making assertions in media interviews that turn out to be false. Tapper’s Feb. 8 interview with Conway was the first time she had appeared on CNN’s air since the Jan. 20 inauguration — at CNN’s choice.

Related

Kellyanne Conway Bowling Green Massacre

Kellyanne Conway Apologizes for Bowling Green ‘Massacre’ Remark, Spars With CNN’s Jake Tapper

“We don’t feel it’s hurting us in any way,” Zucker said of the chilly relations with the White House. “Our journalism has been leading the way in coverage of this administration. It has not hurt our ability to tell the story or attract an audience.”

Zucker would not go so far as to rule out future interviews with Conway, as MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” did this week. She has some credibility issues but “that’s not to say we would not put her on again if we deemed it the right time and if it’s relevant,” he said.

Martin and Zucker both emphasized the strides that CNN is making in the digital realm. “CNN is not a television network that has a website,” Zucker said. “CNN is a full-fledged media company.” CNN has embarked on a five-year plan to generate $1 billion in revenue from digital operations worldwide, he said.

Among other topics from the session:

  • After Time Warner shareholders voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday to approve the $85.4 billion sale to AT&T, Martin said discussions about post-merger integration plans should begin in the coming weeks. The company recently received a second request for information from the Justice Department, which is “reasonably straightforward,” he said.
  • Martin made a point of highlighting the new Charles Barkley documentary series “The Race Card,” set to premiere later this year on TNT. The effort to examine the state of race, politics and class in the U.S. by visiting various cities including Baltimore is “a whole different approach to what you think about from Charles Barkley,” Martin said.
  • Levy talked up the potential of the ELeague venture that blends digital and TV broadcasts of video gaming competitions. Competitions air live on the gaming-centric Twitch digital platform on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday while final rounds air live on TBS on Fridays. “It’s really the next generation of how you think about sports — owning not just the TV portion but everything around it,” Levy said.
  • Turner has been growing at a fast clip on the international front, adding 30 networks in 2015 and 12 in 2016. Next up, Turner is looking at launching direct-to-consumer offerings overseas “in the general entertainment and kids space,” Stock said.
  • The buzzy “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” has been a welcome hit for TBS, but there are no plans at present to expand the show beyond its weekly format. “She’s very focused on her family,” Levy said of Bee.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 535

Leave a Reply

535 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. charles says:

    Really? Well I guess this isn’t the first time CNN denied facts. CNN’s reputation is trashed and they have gone left. They stopped reporting news and started creating it.

  2. Kurt Olson says:

    Well I wasnt surveyed and I can tell you that myself and many of the people that I know feel that CNN has leaned way over to the left and have lost their objectivity in our eyes. CNN execs are fooling themselves if they believe this survey.

  3. ERROLL says:

    CNN.The whole world is watching you GREAT JOB. best AND MOST OBJECTIVE CHANNEL.

  4. jack says:

    I quit watching cnn at the start of the election, so to say its platform has not hurt your viewing platform is wrong lies and part truths is all you offer and I will not watch any more

  5. CNN’s internal survey is wrong. Unfortunately they believe their own press.

  6. john says:

    I’m starting to think CNN is starting to believe their own BS. !!

  7. Arthur C says:

    I use to watch CNN …NO MORE…… The biased agenda they promote is beyond the pale…I am sure they have lost a substantial amount of viewers based on their biased opinions and editorials….They should stick to balanced news coverage without their sad opinions playing to a progressive socialist population… Until they do I keep away from the channel and their lousy Fake news …Sad editorials , and prejudicial coverage…they should be ashamed of them selves to call them selves a news network

  8. judith says:

    CNN. is one of the few television networks that is bringing out truth without fear, Please keep up the good work and don’t change ,We still living in a country with freedom of speech and opinion.

  9. Alternative facts? Well the poll was “prospective viewers”. That speaks volumes about their viewers.
    Are they trying to blame Trump for the people that don’t watch due to their credibility issues? They must think ALL people are sheeple. I took a poll in May.

    Is CNN fake news?
    Yes 88.3% (43,218)
    No 11.7% (5,725)

  10. Johnny says:

    Exactly. CNN=fake news

  11. Chris says:

    This is a lie, I know hundreds of people who DO NOT watch CNN anymore, On my radio show over the last year I was hard pressed to find a caller who says they watch the network! They may still have the advertisers but only for a short time once they see the ad spends on CNN are not getting the ROI due to lack of viewers they will pull out. This is something that will take a bit more time but in the end CNN is a fish in a bowl that has just been flushed they are spinning around but soon will be sucked down.

  12. thecaldude says:

    The only reason anyone watches CNN is to see what the fake news narrative and talking points are and so that we can later read a libtard’s simple, gullible mind when we happen to come across one.

  13. jeffrey says:

    If CNN’s brand is tall tales and fake news then its brand has certainly not been harmed.

    Plain and simple they are not The Media or The Press or Reporters or Journalists. They’ve and their leftist-fascist cronies have been throughly unmasked as corrupt Party Propagandists and nothing more.

  14. conradca says:

    CNN doesn’t have anyone watching them except those TVs in airports that no one can change the channel.

  15. Gary says:

    That’s because their brand has fallen almost as far as it can go. lol!

  16. Richard A Rail says:

    CNN has held onto its several dozen viewers and a billionaire liberal advertiser. Like, wow.

  17. bc3b says:

    Zucker saying CNN viewership is up from last year is like Sears CEO saying its sales are up from last year. It’s pretty meaningless. According to a 2016 Gallup poll only 32% of Americans trust the media (30% of independent voters).

  18. Clover says:

    Well, when your viewership regularly dips below 300,000, how much lower can you go. Once airports change the channel, there will scarcely be any viewers at all.

  19. Bill B. says:

    CNN is a valuable, reliable and honest news source. Period. This brouhaha is neurotic hysteria from the mentally impaired one’s cult of stupidity and ignorance.

  20. The deplorable clayusmcret says:

    “Jeff Zucker: President Trump’s Attacks Haven’t Hurt CNN’s Brand”

    That is true. CNN’s own actions hurt CNN’s “Brand”.

  21. Do not watch CNN OR TBS and have not for many years. They have honestly earnrd their nick name…Clown News Network. This merger should neve have been allowed and will only raise prices as reduced competition usually does. Some areas may wind up with only one possible provider.

  22. stephen Hernon says:

    Zucker believes the CNN brand has not been harmed. This is another example of wishful thinking. The Trump supporters don’t listen to CNN and that means over 1/2 the country has tuned them out.
    and Zucker’s view is that it doesn’t matter. LOL

  23. Wildflwr43 says:

    I remember when CNN was a respected news source. Yes…I’m that old. That’s ancient history.

  24. Mike says:

    CNN – you mean the same trusted news source that gave the questions to their own live Presidential debate to Hillary Clinton, in advance, during the 2016 election? Zucker and CNN are the poster children for journalistic integrity… said absolutely nobody ever.

  25. Zucker can give us his opinion all day long….Let’s see what the ratings are next month….lol…President Trump was a complete breath of fresh air yesterday….He is exactly the man we elected.. YOU GO President Trump…we have your back……

  26. “There has been no diminution whatsoever in the CNN brand,” Zucker said. “It’s as strong as it’s ever been. It’s incredibly trusted and we see no impact whatsoever in all of those attacks on the CNN brand.”

    Is he pulling the Jedi mind trick on himself??? It sounds like he is trying to convince himself that CNN is trusted. What a joke!!! He should change their name to FNN – Fake News Network.

  27. False Hope says:

    Sure it hasn’t, if your brand is “Fake News”…

  28. Dprb says:

    FOXNEWS O’REILLY 4,109,000
    FOXNEWS CARLSON 3,313,000
    FOXNEWS BAIER 3,067,000
    FOXNEWS THE FIVE 2,982,000
    FOXNEWS HANNITY 2,822,000
    FOXNEWS FOX & FRIENDS 2,023,000
    MSNBC MADDOW 2,004,000
    MSNBC ODONNELL 1,593,000
    CNN TOWNHALL/PAUL RYAN 1,514,000
    MSNBC HAYES 1,416,000
    CNN COOPER 1,404,000
    CNN TAPPER 1,224,000
    MSNBC GRETA 799,000
    CMDY DAILY SHOW 787,000
    MSNBC MORNING JOE 700,000
    HBO VICE 277,000

  29. Thomas in J'ville says:

    CNN = Commie News Network or Clinton New Network. Either way it is a socialists progressive big brother loving network.

  30. Venezuelan government’s decision on Wednesday to yank the linear feed of CNN Español from the country’s airwaves. Zucker said the government was also threatening to take down the English-language feed of CNN, the feed to CNN Chile, and to block the CNN Español website and YouTube channels.”

    Normally I would agree, except I wouldn’t have a problem if the entire world threw you people out.

  31. Justified says:

    Zucker’s comments are precisely what is heard before his corporate brand’s value falls off the cliff. The biggest mistake CNN and TIME-WARNER did were to allow the CNN brand align themselves with Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. There is absolutely no road back from this.

  32. William Bedloe says:

    Advertisers find it far easier to drop conservative outlets and businesses with right leaning temperaments simply because the left attacks them on day one. The entire media industry complex in this country is far left, so it is hardly a surprise that advertisers aren’t jumping ship right away.

    Conservatives don’t tend to attack businesses the way leftists do. That is because leftists don’t believe in freedom. To leftists, it’s their way, or the graveyard.

  33. Canes58 says:

    when you have billions you can make funny jokes! they have the worst for cred’s in every pol, even firing brazile for her funneling of questions so the queen of pinocchio’s could answer did nothing as you are still the clinton news network even after wasting over a billion in less than 2 years you still cover for her! even chuck todd for demeaning the msm compalining how unamerican that was to berate the press was amusing so much i was laughing so hard i almost fell out of my seat at my desk! the majority has come to see you as clowns not journalists. you have become the national enquirer that uses smear from back door info to write stories not even caring if it’s true. i will bet you had already known about the stained dress yet refused to print it and it took the enquirer to put it out for all to see! in third place you are and you will stay!

  34. magic says:

    Well, we know where the delusions begin at CNN. No one can be this clueless about his own company.

  35. William Bedloe says:

    It’s funny – liberals defended Chavez, Maduro and the Venezuelans all those years, even though the press was TRULY under attack in that country. Along comes Trump (who has done nothing more than attack a dishonest and partisan media, which is thoroughly justified, given how they mercilessly attack Republicans and provide cover for Democrats), and suddenly the media is proclaiming that they are under attack.

    The free press in this country is dead. There is no fake news – there is no news period. It is all propaganda. If you are looking for the culprit who killed the Free Press in this country, look no further than the “journolisters” over at CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, AP and the rest of the Democrat propaganda machine.

  36. In his dreams! CNN does not rate well next to its competitors! The BS the mainstream media spouts along with its obvious bias is partly why Trump won and the American people are sick of it.

  37. throwemout says:

    CNN…agenda news division derived from their fake news division. They keep it in house!

  38. Eric says:

    Jeffey…if it wasn’t for all airport forced to putt CNN on all the monitors no one would be watching…

  39. I am sure they aren’t having a drop in viewership. The same dozen people will never budge.

  40. Sam Dennis says:

    CNN is making money and that’s the media’s bottom line. In case you haven’t noticed REAL Journalism is dead.

  41. Pete Wood says:

    I do not WATCH CNN anymore they are 1 SIDE news report .WHERE is the REPORT on Trump HELPING the COAL MINERS . NO report on that only FOX did a little on it PUTTING people back to work SAVING jobs .!!!! 75,000 JOBS.

  42. Brand ç dhh says:

    I know many, many people who have tuned CNN completely out! Hahahaha

  43. Mwk says:

    Off coarse cnn’s reputation hasnt been affected, how much lower can an approval rating go? Of coarse your advertisers havent “pulled out”, most of them are selling pharma like viagra and dont have any place else to go. And as for the increase in cnn traffic, that is me and others like me going to your website, not for news, but because drudge linked to one of you fake news articles or stories and i want to see just how bad the story is so i can bring it to the attention of friends who still think cnn is news. Trump was right to down grade cnn to very fake news.

  44. Sam Dennis says:

    Trump haters gobble up the fake news if it is anti-Trump. The more Trump exposes CNN’s biased news the more his haters like CNN …. CNN will have to give Trump a big commission after his EIGHT years as President….Hope Zucker has established a ‘trust’ account and makes periodical payments to it so that CNN has the funds available then- it should be hundreds of millions$ !

    • Canes58 says:

      well sam if true why are they mired in the dumpers at third place? a everlasting spot! when they coined the clinton news network they were doomed! the brazille affair just nailed it more!

  45. “A liar is a liar is a liar. Do not forget it. Ever!”

    Tom Coyne

  46. The night CNN signed on I was there watching, had been a viewer ever since, but this election cycle ended that, my days of even considering them as credible are just a faint memory. If the channel is sold and a new crew brought in I might reconsider them, but only then. It is just an opinion channel, not any news coverage, just an opinion I care not to know.

  47. RSJ says:

    I believe this – Trump is helping CNN – with the majority of Americans not big supporters of Trump, CNN has a huge audience potential – I am another case in that I was a Fox News watcher for a long time – I was no fan of Obama and found Fox was willing to cover stories that others would not about Obama….once Trump got the nomination, this conservative abandoned ship – I have no use for Trump and have tried watching Fox as I once did but find, other than Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, the network is all in for Trump completely….so I now watch CNN because they are willing to stand up to this tyrant that was elected in November….good for CNN!

  48. Tony says:

    Without “linear feeds” of CNN (comes with basic cable all over the world). CNN would be in steep decline.

    Place infowars broadcast alongside CNN instead of “sister” station BBC and watch CNN be destroyed.

  49. I agree. A sizeable portion of the American population like being lied to. It’s like stroking a cat.

More TV News from Variety

Loading