Could CNN Be Nearing End of Left-Leaning Bias After Zucker Exit? (Graeme Sloan/Sipa via AP Images)
By Solange Reyner | Friday, 04 February 2022 05:16 PM
CNN could be nearing the end of its left-leaning bias as billionaire Donald Trump donor and media mogul John Malone wants the network restored to impartiality following Jeff Zucker's departure, according to a Daily Mail report published Friday.
Zucker, CNN president for the past nine years, resigned Wednesday after admitting he violated corporate policy by failing to disclose his romantic relationship with Allison Gollust, another top CNN executive.
Malone, the CEO of Liberty Media, a significant shareholder in Discovery whose acquisition of CNN parent company WarnerMedia is expected to pass regulatory approval and close as soon as May, pressed for Zucker to be terminated, making it known that corporate procedures had to be followed to the tee regarding Zucker's situation, the report said.
Malone was reportedly a chief architect of the merger of Discovery and CNN, according to Mediaite.
Zucker's relationship had come up during an internal investigation into the conduct of anchor Chris Cuomo, who was fired in December over his involvement in the political affairs of his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Malone, labeled the "Cable Cowboy" has been critical of Zucker's programming strategy at CNN and in 2019 said he was eager to see the network return to the "kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing."
"I do believe good journalism could have a role in this future portfolio that Discovery-TimeWarner's going to represent," he added.
AT&T CEO John Stankey, who currently oversees WarnerMedia and CNN, and Discovery CEO David Zaslav on Friday didn't give much information on Zucker's resignation. But they did refute reports that Malone had something to do with Zucker leaving.
"Jeff had a tremendous following within CNN, and there's a lot of people who were incredibly loyal and supportive of him — that makes it hard for those individuals," Stankey said on CNBC.
[But] "I am not going to speculate on your theory" about Malone's involvement, Stankey said. "I have always had a practice of not commenting on personnel decisions, and I'm not going to do that here."
"None of us had anything to do with it," Zaslav said when asked about Malone.
"Jeff is a good friend of mine, but I can't speak to this issue," he added.