The president of CNN has described the political establishment’s silence
over President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media as “shocking”,
calling it an abdication of their responsibility.
Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, told a media conference in
Jerusalem that Trump’s labelling of the media as the enemy of the
state was unfortunate and dangerous, the Associated Press (AP) news
He refused to say whether any CNN staff had been threatened and what
kind of security measures the company had taken, but warned that “words
can have consequences”.
Zucker also said he was stunned that politicians had not spoken out
fiercely against Mr Trump’s assault on the free press.
He singled out Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham as
among the few who have had the courage to stand up for their
Since taking office, Trump has repeatedly lashed out at the media,
taking particular aim at CNN.
He has upbraided its reporters publicly, deriding the network as “fake
news”, and his press secretary blocked CNN from taking part in a White
House media briefing.
Zucker said the contentious climate had not harmed CNN – its ratings
and revenue had seen a huge boost.
The most important thing was not to be intimidated by the president and
stick to aggressive journalism, he said.
“When you are reporting, when you are standing up for the facts, when
you are telling the truth, when you are standing up for the first
amendment, when you are calling it the way it is, that’s not hitting
back – that’s doing your job,” he told the INTV conference.
“I think that he (Trump) continues to believe that the media is
insinuating that his presidency is illegitimate.
“That is not what is going on here. We are just trying to ask questions,
we are just trying to do reporting, we are just trying to do our job.”
Zucker, who in a previous role as head of NBC Entertainment helped
launch Trump’s TV career by giving the go-ahead to the hit reality
show The Apprentice, said the last time he spoke to Trump was on
21 December at 7pm, when he was watching TV at home and his mobile phone rang.
“I say ‘hello’. He says ‘Jeff, Donald’. I say ‘hello, Donald’.
“And he spent the next two minutes railing about a guest we just had on
CNN who said something about him he didn’t like.
“He yelled at me for two minutes and he said ‘Okay, got it? Goodbye’ and
he hung up,” Zucker recalled, to giggles from the audience.