This might explain CNN’s chyron management of late more than anything else. The testimony of a CNN insider long promoted by Project Veritas ahead of an official release has emerged earlier today, along with a recorded conference call from network president Jeff Zucker. In the call, Zucker tells his team to stay focused on impeachment and to stop treating Lindsey Graham objectively, along with other bon mots that call CNN’s claims of fair news reporting into question:
BREAKING: New leaked video from inside CNN:
President Jeff Zucker tells employees to push "impeachment" and that all of CNN's stories should be about "moves towards impeachment"
One of CNN's employees says Zucker has a "personal vendetta against Trump"pic.twitter.com/nu8fkfsXDk
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 14, 2019
Bear in mind that we are looking at the teaser for a longer release, which will come either later today or tomorrow. (As of this writing, the PV site is down, likely from a traffic surge related to this release.) A broader context of these remarks might put some of them in a different light, but for the moment they sound suspiciously like Zucker wants CNN to get aboard the House Democrats’ impeachment train.
Of course, the “we” here might also be an observation about the nation as a whole and not a directive to CNN personnel:
ZUCKER: We’re moving towards impeachment. I mean, don’t like, you know — we shouldn’t pretend, oh, this is going one way. And so all these moves are moves towards impeachment.
If Zucker’s describing the difference between Nancy Pelosi’s rhetoric and House Democrats’ actions, that’s actually an accurate assessment of the situation. The rest of the call might clear up exactly what it is Zucker’s trying to say here, but it’s at least theoretically explicable as analysis.
It’s tough to explain this animus away, however:
ZUCKER: So I just want to say on the Lindsey Graham front. I know that there’s a lot of people at CNN that are friendly with Lindsey Graham. It’s time to knock that off. And it’s time to call him out.
If CNN is a *news* organization, why would it matter whether they are friendly or hostile to any one particular politician? All they are required to do is report on his actions and statements. In interviews, their reporters should ask questions designed to elicit facts and policies. The moment an organization starts directing its personnel to “call out” a politician, they cease being a news organization and transform into an advocacy organization.
One of the more amusing reveals in Zucker’s conference call, however, is that he’s a believer in “fake news.” While news (or whatevs) organizations protest the term vociferously, Zucker has no problem applying it to his biggest competitor:
ZUCKER: I think what’s going on in America now is really fundamentally the years of fake news, conspiracy nonsense from Fox News … The fake conspiracy nonsense that Fox has spread for years is now deeply embedded in American society, and frankly that is beyond destructive for America. And I do not think we should be scared to say so.
This is not an entirely unfair criticism of Fox, especially after the Seth Rich conspiracy nonsense it has produced, but Fox isn’t alone in the ol’ “fake news” biz either. Shall we discuss the execrable decision to air a town-hall forum just hours after the Parkland shooting that heaped blame on the NRA and turned Sheriff Scott Israel into a hero? How about its serial libels about Nick Sandmann and the Covington Catholic High School teens at the March for Life event last year? Those might not be actionable in court, but they certainly fit the definition of “fake news” and “nonsense,” at least outside of CNN’s studios and offices.
After all of that, Zucker won’t find it easy for people to give him the benefit of the doubt on these remarks about impeachment. Nor should they, given CNN’s incompetence and bias under his leadership. Their insider talks about the bias he has personally witnessed apart from that call, and catches other CNN employees talking about Zucker’s bias and “personal vendetta” against Trump as open secrets within the organization. Knowing how James O’Keefe works, bet on him having even more on tape and in personal testimony along these lines.