operation zucker

No cable-news organization disgraced itself more comprehensively than CNN. No one expects better from Fox News, but CNN used to stand for something—professional standards, stuff like that. Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper, and Van Jones aside, it was slumming on the job. The president of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker, was instrumental in the rise of Donald Trump as a media brand in his earlier role as head of NBC Entertainment, which gave us The Apprentice. Under Zucker’s tenure, any remnant of integrity and impartiality CNN once prided itself on is now scrap metal. CNN hired Corey Lewandowski, recall, after he was fired as Trump’s campaign manager, and Lewandowski proceeded to make no pretense of offering independent commentary on countless useless political panels—he functioned as an in-house hammerhead shark for the Trump operation. “CNN president Jeff Zucker repeatedly defended Lewandowski’s hiring,” wrote Ben Dimiero in Media Matters, “even as it became clear that he was still drawing large ‘severance’ checks from the campaign, advising Trump on strategy, helping to prep him for the debates, and flying on the candidate’s plane while working for the network.” His eventual successor as Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, tweeted a photo of Lewandowski posed between herself and press secretary Hope Hicks with the hashtag #Teamwork. A few days after the election, Lewandowski jilted CNN for what was widely speculated to be a role within the Trump team, stubbing one last lit cigarette into CNN’s reputation. As MSNBC host Chris Hayes tweeted with acid irony, “For continuity’s sake, CNN should keep paying him while he’s in the White House.”