Industry Insiders Question Jeff Zucker's Future at CNN WarnerMedia Chairman Jeff Zucker attends CNN Heroes at American Museum of Natural History on Dec. 8, 2019, in New York City. (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)
By Theodore Bunker | Wednesday, 08 December 2021 11:59 AM
CNN boss Jeff Zucker has "become a liability" to the network’s parent company WarnerMedia, according to some industry insiders, following his firing of longtime anchor Chris Cuomo ahead of the company’s merger with Discovery.
"Jeff isn’t the supreme ruler anymore as was made clear when they made him fire Cuomo," an unnamed media executive told Fox News Digital on Wednesday. The insider went on to claim that Zucker has "become a liability with his embarrassing defense of liberal activists like Cuomo, Don Lemon, and Jim Acosta."
Zucker reportedly told his staff last February that he expects to "move on" when his contract ends at the end of the year, according to The New York Times, though many in the news media industry expressed doubts at the time that he would actually leave, according to Fox News Digital.
This speculation only increased once the merger was announced, and Zucker’s longtime friend, Discovery CEO David Zaslav, was selected to run the combined company over WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who Zucker was reportedly unhappy having to report to.
"Zucker may now have the chance to work for one of his closest pals in business and in life, a golf buddy and confidant who the CNN president once said was 'the best friend that anyone could ever want, and I’m lucky that he’s mine,'" the Times wrote last May.
The Daily Caller's editorial director, Vince Coglianese, said on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" earlier this week that Zaslav "was in the meetings last week when they decided to suspend Chris Cuomo. And then, subsequently, you have TimeWarner and Discovery in this big merger right now … We saw Brian Stelter … go on air and claim that Cuomo might be back within a few weeks. I’m starting to think that Jeff Zucker is being cut out of the conversation."
He added that Cuomo "got fired on Saturday and Discovery is really concerned about how the government is going to let them handle this merger and Zucker may be shown the exit pretty soon here."
John Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media and Discovery’s top shareholder, told CNBC recently that he thinks CNN should "evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists," and a longtime media industry insider told Fox News Digital that "Malone wants CNN to return to its hard news roots and the Jeff Zucker show may be ending after all."