Ed Driscoll

CNN's Jeff Zucker Makes It Official

As Tammy Bruce writes in her new Washington Times column, “I love it when the left grabs a microphone and exposes its craven and rotten core. It’s up to conservatives to make sure Americans see it for what it is.” While Tammy’s debut column is devoted to the vile statements of MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry and Martin Bashir, CNN head honcho Jeff Zucker similarly dropped the mask this past week.

After the rise of first MSNBC and then Mr. Obama, CNN and its admirers amongst its fellow “liberals” liked to make statements along the lines of “Liberals have MSNBC on the left, conservatives have Fox on the right, but CNN plays it straight down the middle.” Of course, as with much of the output of the MSM, that was always a lie, but CNN’s Zucker made it official this past week, as Tony Lee notes at Big Journalism, in a post titled, “CNN to Republicans: Drop Dead:”

CNN Chief Jeff Zucker might not be very good at getting ratings for his Nielsens-challenged network, but he’s great at hurling insults. On Friday, Zucker tried to diminish both the Republican Party and Fox News by alleging that the GOP is being run out of Fox.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was having none of it, firing back at Zucker to let him know that Fox News is not the GOP’s mouthpiece. “Hey Jeff Zucker, we’re the Republican Party and we speak for ourselves, pal,” Priebus tweeted. “Have a great weekend.”

At a Television Critics Association event on Friday, Zucker alleged that “the Republican Party is being run out of News Corp. headquarters masquerading as a cable news channel” without acknowledging that he runs a network that accused former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin of being responsible for the attempted murder of Gabby Giffords without any evidence whatsoever. CNN has been repeatedly called out for its left-leaning biases that masquerade as “objective” news, which is why the network’s primetime ratings hit a 20-year low last year.

It’s an interesting strategy Zucker has: trash the Republican Party and, by extension, all Republicans.

As long as Zucker is in charge of CNN, his quote can be hauled out anytime another old media figure attempts to claim the network is “objective.” And it’s a reminder of how Roger Ailes can win, simply by driving his opponents absolutely insane with rage.

And note how situational Zucker’s ethics could be, before his anger caused him to drop the mask. Back in November of 2004, immediately after George W. Bush was reelected president, and Zucker was still with NBC, he was using quite a different tone in a USA Today puff piece written to boost the name recognition of the newsreader who had recently replaced veteran anchor Tom Brokaw:

Williams has more plebian interests than his soon-to-be rivals, CBS’ Dan Rather, 73, a friend from CBS days, and ABC’s Peter Jennings, 66.

A onetime volunteer firefighter, Williams talks excitedly about the prospect of handling hoses and climbing ladders again on an upcoming story. He has been a stock-car racing fan since childhood days at the Chemung Speedrome near Elmira, N.Y., and is part owner of a dirt-track stock car team.

“No one understands this NASCAR nation more than Brian,” says NBC president Jeff Zucker, who once produced Nightly News for Brokaw.

Zucker admits to some apprehension around NBC about the upcoming switch, but he attributes the butterflies not to concern about Williams’ abilities, but to the fact that there hasn’t been an anchor change since Brokaw and Jennings were both named anchors in 1983.

Incidentally, note this telling passage in the decade-old piece:

An example of the kind of story Williams likes to report came this fall when he flew to Dundee, Mich., to take the pulse at Cabela’s, the popular hunting and fishing mail-order house whose megastores draw 4 million customers a year.

Williams reported — presciently in light of President Bush’s re-election — that Cabela’s customers were a force to be reckoned with: God-fearing conservatives who like guns, fishing and the outdoors, and that in 2000, “six in 10 gun owners voted for President Bush.”

One hunter, a young woman, told Williams in a checkout line that she had already picked the tree she’d shoot from when deer season opens.

Recalling that day, Williams says: “I own an air rifle, mostly to scare the deer in our backyard, but I wanted to go back to our newsroom and say, ‘Guys, this is who you don’t know. While we haven’t been watching, this is what America has become.’ Not to pander, not to customize the news, but a newscast that forgets what its audience has become and takes its eye off the ball in terms of what America is, is doomed to failure.”

Sounds like good advice; too bad Williams didn’t take it, but it’s a reminder that Zucker’s choices have now been seen to doom two networks — or perhaps three, considering how interconnected NBC and MSNBC are.

Related: Speaking of old and new media, a big thanks to Doug Ross of the Director Blue blog for including as “Best Media Watcher,” along with Noah Rothman of Mediaite, as part of Doug’s 2013 Fabulous 50 Blog Award Winners. It’s very good company to be in, and we certainly appreciate the award.