With quite a bit of help from a polarizing president, Jeff Zucker has returned CNN to cable news’ ratings throne.
But his contract is running out. And as Vanity Fair explains it, the CNN chief might be exiting before Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th U.S. President on Jan. 20.
“Jason Kilar has no idea what’s about to walk out the door,” said one unnamed CNN staffer, addressing earlier Wall Street Journal reports about tension between WarnerMedia’s overlord, Kilar, and Zucker.
The CNN chief was reportedly unhappy about recent WarnerMedia restructuring that stripped Zucker’s oversight of financial, human resources and communications departments. In fact, it was reported that Zucker had less than a day’s notice the changes were occurring.
The New York Times’ Ben Smith has chronicled Zucker’s rise at CNN, tying it back to when Zucker ran NBC and helped turn Donald Trump into a reality TV star with The Apprentice. According to Smith’s narrative, Zucker, through CNN, has tried to take down "the monster” he created at NBC.
But with Trump set to leave office, “that show may be ending,” Smith postulates.
There are, however, reasons to believe Zucker and WarnerMedia might come to terms, as well.
Corporately, CNN’s very opposition stance since 2016 has reaped ratings and ad dollars. According to media research group Kagan, CNN is set to generate around $773 million in revenue in 2020.
And seemingly, CNN won’t be the same corporate liability that it was a few years ago, when the cable news network was held up as a regulatory pawn in AT&T’s attempt to purchase the erstwhile Time Warner Inc.
And there’s also, as Vanity Fair describes, the high morale of the CNN rank and file to consider.
“People really love Jeff and they do not want to see him go,” a CNN journalist told the magazine “I think a lot of people will be devastated if he does leave the network, and are concerned that you won’t be able to find someone with his leadership style to fill that role.”
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