by Shelby Talcott
CNN President Jeff Zucker bashed Fox News at the “Citizen by CNN Forum” Thursday, telling host Brian Stelter that the network is “akin to state-run TV” that’s “morphed into conspiracy TV.”
“Citizen by CNN” is a “civic engagement platform” designed to “discuss issues that matter, the motivations to vote and the importance of being informed and engaged in the political process,” according to the network. Its 2019 conference Thursday in New York City featured numerous reporters, lawmakers and more.
Zucker, who took over as president of CNN Worldwide in January 2013, was one of the speakers at the event. Zucker briefly talked about Fox News after Stelter asked what former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith’s departure meant for the network. Smith abruptly left Fox Oct. 11, walking away from a reported $15 million a year contract according to Forbes.
“Listen, I’ve said before, it’s akin to state-run TV, I think it’s morphed into conspiracy TV, and its not a place where somebody like Shep Smith could work…I don’t think it’s a journalistic organization,” Zucker said.
“Are there a handful of really good journalists in that organization? Sure,” CNN’s president continued. “Is there one or two really good anchors at that organization? Sure. But that doesn’t make it a news organization. And it doesn’t make it a journalistic enterprise.”
Matt Dornic, vice president of CNN Communications, noted that the network stands by Zucker’s comment.
“The comments are the comments,” Dornic told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Rather, the comment is the comment.”
Zucker noted that Stelter doesn’t agree with his characterization of Fox News, but continued on with his explanation, saying that the network has been a part of peddling conspiracy theories.
“They’re responsible for a lot of the problems in this country by having instituted a tremendous amount of conspiracies in this country, and, you know, that’s why I think the way you and others characterize that organization as, you know, having a news side and an opinion side is completely erroneous,” Zucker added.
Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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Shelby Talcott is a reporter for the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Photo “Jeff Zucker and Brian Selter” by The DC Shorts.