Jeff Zucker: Stop calling Fox News a news organization

Just giving you a heads-up about this clip now on the assumption that there’ll be lengthy rebuttals to it on Tucker Carlson’s, Sean Hannity’s, and Laura Ingraham’s shows tonight. With those rebuttals likely to focus on which CNN personnel, if any, might aptly be described as fair and balanced themselves.

Maybe Wolf? I can’t recall any examples of Wolf Blitzer launching into a furrowed-brow monologue about Trump on the air over the past two and a half years. When you watch Wolf, you know what you’re getting — a merry-go-round of various correspondents reporting remotely from the Hill and in-studio panelists sounding off, with Blitzer acting as a nervous-sounding emcee whose job is to keep the show moving. He’s sort of the Ed Sullivan of CNN. Not going to win any Pulitzers but not going to get on your nerves either.

Pretty slim pickings beyond him, though. Maybe they can grab someone who’s currently unemployed to bring a little impartial journalism to CNN?

CNN president Jeff Zucker suggested that he’s interested in hiring former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith when he’s able to join a new company.

Smith abruptly departed the network on Oct. 11, and, due to the nature of his contract, won’t immediately be able to take a new job.

“I think Shep’s a great journalist,” Zucker said at the network’s Citizen conference on Thursday afternoon. “When he’s available, he is somebody who is very talented and I would be very open to talking to him.”

You’re snickering at me calling Shep an “impartial” journalist given his obvious disdain for Trump, but given the leanings of the current CNN anchor corps, his addition really might tilt the network marginally towards the center on average.

I mean, it’s not like he has a “personal vendetta” against Trump like Jeff Zucker allegedly does.

Anyway, whenever you see Jeff Zucker grousing about Fox, two facts should be borne in mind. One: Clearly his complaints about Fox mostly have to do with its slavish apologetics for Trump. It’s not a news organization, he claims, it’s a propaganda outlet. And everyone understands on whose behalf it’s propagandizing. But here’s the second fact: Arguably no one in the world, including Roger Ailes, did more to help create a Donald Trump presidency than Jeff Zucker did. After all, before Zucker was head of CNN he was the man at NBC who elevated New York tabloid curio Donald Trump to the status of one of America’s greatest businessmen in the public’s imagination by creating “The Apprentice.” The image of Trump as a commanding manager who’d settle for nothing less than excellence was largely a product by that show. Jeff Zucker’s show. Then, after Trump launched his presidential candidacy, Zucker promoted him relentlessly again by having CNN devote hours of airtime to his rallies. Whether Fox News did more to enable Trump in 2015-16 than Zucker did in his two roles at NBC and CNN is a debate I’d love to see settled somehow, but for now it’s enough to say that the irony of Zucker complaining about other people’s Trump mythmaking is neck-deep.

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