6 Takeaways from Jeff Zucker’s Variety Interview

By Chris Ariens 

CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker covers the August 2 issue of Variety. Here are 6 takeaways from the 2,800-word in depth profile from Ramin Setoodeh:

On digital competition:

“I don’t think Vice and BuzzFeed are legitimate news organizations. They are native advertising shops. We crush both of them. They are not even in our same class.”

On the Roger Ailes sexual harassment suit:

“It’s certainly not something we expected to happen. We’re going to continue to be focused on what we’re doing.”

On challenging Fox News in the ratings:

“We’ve got our largest share of the prime time audience in 15 years. We’re within 2 share points of Fox.”

John Martin, CEO of CNN parent Turner Broadcasting, praises Zucker for turning the network around. “CNN is going to have a record year in terms of revenues and profits,” he says. Such success has allowed Turner to grow CNN’s staff and resources. Martin is less reluctant than Zucker to speculate on whether CNN will eclipse Fox News. “It’s a question of when, not if,” he says.

On the election year ratings boost:

“The ratings are going to go down. That’s the way it is. It’s not about comparing 2016 to 2017. It’s about where we were before 2016 began.”

Why he only sleeps five hours a night:

“I can’t sleep more. I wish I could.”

On what’s next when his CNN contract expires next year, and whether that includes running for mayor of New York:

“As long as I’m happy, I’ll be here. The mayor thing was completely taken out of context. I don’t think that’s in the current cards.”