Throughout the campaign and continuing since his inauguration, Donald Trump and CNN have had a combative relationship as the cable news network attempts to hold its ground against an unfriendly White House. It’s all par for the course for CNN and its president, former NBC entertainment executive Jeff Zucker, especially if this New York Times Magazine feature about the network and Trump’s relationship is to be believed.
Near the end of the story, Zucker discusses some of the times he and Trump, or a Trump surrogate, spoke directly following incidents of Trump attacking the network — actions that Zucker ascribes to his previously existing relationship with Trump — including the infamous Trump Tower summit between the then-president-elect and news anchors and network executives that Zucker then referred to as a “f*cking firing squad.” One of the last times that Zucker and Trump spoke directly, reportedly, is arguably a wilder story: according to Zucker, he talked Trump out of giving Fox News exclusive rights to his inauguration:
“Shortly before Trump was sworn in, Zucker heard that he was considering giving Fox News exclusive rights to televise the inauguration and that Kushner was in the process of brokering a deal with Rupert Murdoch, whom Kushner once courted as a mentor. Zucker called Trump. “Bottom line is that I said, ‘This is crazy,’ ” Zucker recalls. “You’re just going to give your inaugural coverage to your base of support? It makes no sense.”
Zucker’s attempt to get in on that coverage, however, makes complete sense: Trump’s been very, very good for business, with cable ratings up despite projections of a post-election dip. According to Politico, CNN just had its “most watched” quarter since 2003 and certainly wouldn’t have been able to accomplish that without inauguration coverage.
CNN isn’t taking its foot off the pedal, either. Just yesterday, the network added April Ryan, a White House correspondent known for clashing with Trump and Press Secretary Sean Spicer, as a political analyst, as well as several former Obama officials in a move apparently designed to get the President fuming on Twitter.
(Via New York Times Magazine)