CNN head Jeff Zucker appears to have offered Donald Trump a “weekly show” on the network in 2016, also giving tips for a presidential debate, arguing Trump could not win the race without his outlet’s support, leaked audio reveals.
Zucker – who now presides over one of the most fervently anti-Trump media outlets in the American corporate press – hatched the idea to give then-candidate Trump a weekly slot on CNN during a March 2016 phone call with Micheal Cohen, a lawyer for Trump at the time, according to audio obtained by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.
Speaking with Cohen hours before the final Republican primary debate in the 2016 race, Zucker said that while the Trump campaign had shown “great instincts, great guts and great understanding of everything,” he insisted victory would be impossible without CNN’s backing.
“Here’s the thing… you cannot be elected president of the United States without CNN,” Zucker boasted. “Fox and MSNBC are irrelevant – irrelevant – in electing a general election candidate.”
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When Cohen suggested the CNN chief relay his thoughts to Trump himself, Zucker demurred, saying he is “very conscious of not putting too much in email,” as Trump – “the boss” – might go blabbing about it on the campaign trail.
You know, as fond as I am of the boss, he also has a tendency… if I call him or I email him, he then is capable of going out at his next rally and saying that we just talked, and I can’t have that, if you know what I’m saying.
Zucker soon talked himself back into contacting Trump, however, committing to “give him a call right now” to “wish him luck in the debate tonight” – hosted by none other than CNN – adding “I have all these proposals for him, like I want to do a weekly show with him and all this stuff.”
He went on to lavish praise on Trump, saying he had “never lost a debate” and would do “great” during the CNN event later that night, even offering detailed advice for how the president-to-be could deflect allegations that he is a “con man” from other candidates.
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While the source of the recording is unclear, the leak has made waves online, given that Zucker has since made himself into Trump’s “cable news nemesis.” The network itself, meanwhile, has fielded an endless stream of negative coverage of the president, heavily pushing the discredited ‘Russiagate’ conspiracy theory for years and throwing full weight behind the Democrats’ failed impeachment effort.
Some netizens have already suggested the “damning” revelation could soon result in Zucker’s ouster from his high perch at CNN.
“You think Jeff Zucker will be fired? I actually think there’s a decent chance he will be. Trying to kiss up to Trump is on par with murder in CNN world,”wrote filmmaker and conservative pundit Robby Starbuck.
With the new leaked audio, I give it 12 hours before Trump tweets about CNN President Jeff Zucker admitting,“Trump has never lost a debate”You cannot make this stuff up!
— SETH WEATHERS (@sethweathers) September 9, 2020
This is quite damning for Jeff Zucker. Leaves no room for anyone at CNN to complain about Trump’s rise. Stelter will also have to find a new schtick. https://t.co/RmvVluBbSM
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) September 9, 2020
Others were less taken aback by the audio, as many pointed to the fact that Zucker and Trump have a lengthy history together, both working on ‘The Apprentice,’ the hit reality show that helped to solidify Trump’s status as a pop culture icon. In 2012, Trump even hailed Zucker’s takeover as CNN president, saying the network made a “great move,” and that Zucker “was responsible for me and The Apprentice on NBC – became #1 show!”
“Everyone knows Zucker made Trump, it’s 100% true,” one user said. “Trump was down and out. Zucker pitched him a reality TV show called the Apprentice. Why? Because he likes his New Yorkers, he likes Trump.”
CNN President Jeff Zucker was NBC Entertainment’s president when the network hired Donald Trump for The Apprentice in 2004. The two worked together until 2010 https://t.co/rXSbN8kfwE
— Logan Ratick (@Logan_Ratick) September 8, 2020
Tucker calls out Zucker and Cohen but not Trump? Zucker and Trump worked together on the Apprentice for 14 years. They were buddies. Zucker gave Trump rally’s so much free air time on CNN. For Tucker to make it seem like Trump was just a bystander is just a typical biased take.
— Saad (@rhapsaadic) September 9, 2020
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