CNN President Jeff Zucker, who led the network in its coverage of former President Donald Trump’s administration, announced that he’ll step down from his position at the end of the year.
Zucker told employees on Feb. 4 that he will remain the company’s president for the rest of the year. There had been unconfirmed reports that he would step down.
“The truth is, back in November and December I had basically decided that it was time to move on now,” Zucker said on an editorial call, according to CNN pundit Brian Stelter. “But since then I’ve had a change of heart. And I want to stay. Not forever, but for another year. And I feel really good about this decision.”
Stelter’s report didn’t include any other quotes and didn’t confirm any other details regarding Zucker’s departure, including the exact date or who would be tapped to replace him.
Zucker became the company’s president in 2013. In addition to CNN, he also oversees the platforms under Warner Media and Sports.
In October, he told staffers he might leave after the November election.
“The industry is changing, our company is changing, so I have a lot to think about,” he told them, according to Stelter. “CNN has never been stronger, and that is something I am incredibly proud of.”
The CNN president’s announcement comes as a number of networks grapple with how to cover the news in the wake of Trump’s departure and how to cover President Joe Biden’s nascent administration. Over the past five years or so, Trump has commanded considerable media coverage—often being featured as the lead story on numerous news websites on a near-daily basis.
CNN didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
According to Variety magazine, news channels CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News saw declines in TV ratings during Biden’s first full week in office, although CNN appears to be especially hard-hit.
“Variety Intelligence Platform’s analysis of the viewership data across two key metrics—the target news demographic for people ages 25–54, and the total audience watching—shows that CNN ended the final week of January with ratings dropping roughly 44 percent for total audience versus the prior week across all three hours of primetime,” according to Variety.
About 18 months ago, a hidden-camera video leaked by Project Veritas showed several CNN staff members expressing their dismay with how the company was being run at the time, saying that the network had a left-wing bias while focusing on sensationalism and incessantly featuring Trump in a negative light.
“I hate seeing what we were and what we could be and what we’ve become,” Patrick Davis, a manager of CNN field operations and a 25-year veteran of the network, said in the clip, released in October 2019. “It’s just awful.”
Others said that before Zucker, who previously worked at NBC, took over, CNN used to be “really just straight news … there wasn’t as much opinion and panel [discussions] and the same people.”