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CNN Chief Jeff Zucker to Take Leave for Heart Surgery

Jeff Zucker, the guiding force behind AT&T’s well-known CNN news operation, will take a six-week leave from the company to deal with heart surgery.

A CNN spokeswoman confirmed the details included in a Thursday-morning tweet by Brian Stelter, the network’s media correspondent: Zucker, CNN Worldwide’s president, will undergo elective surgery to address a condition he has had for ten years. “He assured everyone he is going to be just fine,” Stelter said, reporting Zucker’s comments from a news meeting held Thursday. CNN did not offer any further details.

Michael Bass, a longtime Zucker lieutenant who is CNN’s executive vice president of programming, is expected to take up oversight of CNN’s schedule, while other members of the unit’s management team will supervise other operations. CNN has long been one of the biggest financial engines of the former Time Warner, which was acquired by AT&T in June for $85.4 billion after the telecommunications giant prevailed against a U.S. government effort to squelch the deal. The government has appealed the decision.

Zucker, who is in place at CNN through the 2020 election per a recent contract, has since his arrival at CNN in 2013 added new moxie to the cable network’s brand, thanks to anchors like Jake Tapper, Alisyn Camerota, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon. CNN has ramped up production of documentary series under Zucker’s aegis and adopted a more lean-in attitude when it comes to coverage of politics.

At the same time, the network has become a punching-bag favorite of President Donald Trump and many Republicans, who tend to push back against its White House coverage.

Zucker has been open about dealing with medical issues in the past. The 53-year-old executive, a former “Today” producer who rose to become CEO of NBCUniversal, was treated twice for colon cancer in this 30s.

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