Les Moonves: ‘I learned a long time ago not to give Jeff Zucker advice’

By Alex Weprin 

TVNewser was at this morning’s Viewpoints breakfast sponsored by the Wall Street Journal and headlined by CBS CEO Les Moonves. Moonves was asked if he had any advice for CNN’s new president — his former rival — former NBC Universal CEO Jeff Zucker.

“I learned a long time ago not to give Jeff Zucker advice,” Moonves quipped. “I think Jeff Zucker is a very good choice. He is a showman. He made the “Today” show great. They not only need some help with their programming, but also their promotion, and he will do a very good job with that.

They need someone to help stave off Roger Ailes when he takes shots at CNN, which [Zucker] will do very well,” Moonves added.

As for CNN, Moonves acknowledged that CBS and the cable news channel had talked about pooling resources, but that the talks didn’t go anywhere.

“Is it a good thing to have a cable news network? Absolutely. Do I wish we had one? Probably,” Moonves said. “That said I am really proud of what our guys are doing.”

Moonves also took aim at CNN’s competitors Fox News and MSNBC, while acknowledging that they have great business models. Among the attendees in the audience was Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, who smiled as Moonves mentioned the competitive landscape.

“I don’t think you have to succeed by being partisan. Obviously Fox and MSNBC have been successful by taking that road,” Moonves said. “God forbid that is the only news on television where everyone has decided that we are taking a side and that is the only way to go, and people will watch with whatever they agree with, and get the polls they only want to agree with. I think partisan news, hopefully, is not our future. It won’t be at CBS.”