CNN Chief: Antagonism Toward Trump ‘Boosting Morale’ of Network Employees

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CNN is viewing its antagonism toward President Donald J. Trump as a “badge of honor” — and according to CNN president Jeff Zucker the network’s daily aggression aimed at Trump is “boosting” employee morale.

President Trump renewed his assault on the veracity of the “fake media” by jousting with CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta at a Thursday press conference. During the back and forth, Trump joked that he was downgrading CNN from merely “fake news,” to “very fake news.” He also poked at the network over its ratings.

Only five months ago, CNN’s ratings were so bad that it slipped into third place — even behind little-watched MSNBC. And just this week Medialife Magazine reported that Fox News took all the top spots in the most viewed cable news programs. The magazine also reported that Fox and MSNBC came in first and second respectively, with CNN showing in at third place.

Despite the slide in ratings and Trump’s characterization of the network as “fake news,” CNN President Jeff Zucker seems proud of his status.

“They wear those insults as a badge of honor, because it means they are doing their jobs,” Zucker said of his employees, according to Politico. “I would say that morale is incredibly high … They are not being intimidated, they are not backing down, they know they have my full support and it is a very exciting time, frankly, to be a journalist at CNN.”

Zucker went on to add that, if anything, his employees are working overtime. “If there is any issue, it is because they are exhausted. The pace has been nonstop, and it has not let up,” he said.

The CNN chief did say he was “concerned” at first that the president’s attacks coming “on a daily basis” might hurt the network. But he claimed that there hadn’t been any harm done. He pointed to a recent study to make his case.

“There has been no diminution whatsoever,” Zucker claimed the study showed. “The CNN brand is as strong as it has ever been. Incredibly trusted. And we have seen no impact whatsoever in all those attacks on the CNN brand.”

“The demand for CNN is incredibly high,” Zucker insisted. “These are very good times for us, and the money is following,” he said, adding that the network is looking to make one billion in profits this year.

At the same event, Turner President David Levy chimed in that the network’s advertising is still strong. “CNN last year had its best year ever in terms of advertising,” he said.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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