CNN’s Jeff Zucker ‘Interested’ in Running for Office

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: Jeff Zucker attends the CNN Correspondents' Brunch at Toolbox Studio on April 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images)
Photo by Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images

CNN president Jeff Zucker revealed to David Axelrod during an interview on the Axe Files podcast that he is toying with running for public office.

“I don’t know for sure where I’ll be but here’s the two things I do know: if the Miami Dolphins call, that’s where I’ll be,” Zucker said when asked where he envisions himself in five years, according to Talking Points Memo. “And number two, look I still harbor somewhere in my gut that I’m still very interested in politics… I’m still interested in [running for office] and it’s something I would consider.”

Zucker’s interview with former President Barack Obama’s campaign strategist was released Monday.

Zucker, who has a long and contentious relationship with President Donald Trump, vigorously defended CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta following a tense exchange between the reporter and commander-in-chief at a White House presser in October. The incident led to the suspension and eventual reinstatement of Acosta’s White House press credentials after a judge ruled the hard pass must be returned to the partisan reporter.

“I want you to know that we have your backs,” Zucker wrote to staffers in response to the incident, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “That this organization believes fiercely in the protections granted to us by the First Amendment, and we will defend them, and you, vigorously, every time.”

Zucker also took aim at President Trump after a series of explosive devices were sent to various prominent political and media figures, along with CNN’s New York City news bureau.

The CNN president was critical of the White House’s response to the attempted bombings, claiming it possed a “complete lack of understanding about the seriousness” of its media critiques, and was followed up by another statement calling on press secretary Sarah Sanders to understand that “words matter.”

Zucker made the remarks on the day that Florida resident Cesar Sayoc allegedly sent the first of three devices to CNN.

In June 2017, Zucker lamented the level of threats faced by journalists is more serious than people realize and layed the blame squarely at the feet of President Trump and other politicians he claimed attempt to delegitimize the press.

“This is what happens when you try to delegitimize an institution that is trying to do its job,” Zucker said during a breakfast celebrating the fourth anniversary of New Day. “It is shameful on the part of the administration and other politicians to cause a frenzy against something that is guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. It does a disservice to this country and its position in the world and allows a heightened sense of rhetoric against journalists and media organizations.”

In addition to criticizing the administration, Zucker has sharply attacked Fox News, calling it a propaganda machine that is “doing an incredible disservice to the country.”

“What has happened to that network in the last 18 months, especially the last year, is that it has just turned itself into state-run TV,” Zucker told attendees of the Financial Times’s Future of News conference in March. “TASS has nothing on them.”

While Zucker, 53, shows no signs of slowing down, health could potentially play a factor in whether the media executive shifts into politics. In July, the CNN president underwent heart surgery and took a six-week leave of absence from running the news network. At the time, the company said Zucker’s surgery was elective to address a condition that he has had for a decade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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