The Jeff Zucker Press Call…
Out of all the Jeff Zucker to CNN articles I’ve read, the one I will bestow must read status on is the Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes who gives a behind the curtain look at the press call that happened earlier today. I love de Moraes’ tone…
Both Zucker and Kent talked about improving the consistency of CNN shows, both in front of the camera and behind.
“CNN does not have an identity problem…we’ve had some execution problems, not only in primetime but in other dayparts as well,” Kent said.
“Jeff’s mission is to get every one of our platforms…to execute as well as possible.”
An LA Times reporter on the conference call asked if he’d just said he was going to be executing people in primetime.
Another member of the press on the call asked Zucker to settle the question the reporters were having at that very same moment on Twitter, as to whether Zucker will commute between his home in Manhattan and CNN’s operations in Atlanta by flying first class on commercial planes, or on a private jet.
CNN’s reporter on the call, Josh Levs, told Zucker to play a quick game of “Yes or No” with him, and began:
“Is it one of your goals to get higher daily ratings than [Fox News Channel] or MSNBC — yes or no?”
Spoiler alert: ‘Yes’ is the correct answer.
Levs also asked Leno if he’d learned any lessons in the “Leno Debacle or whatever you call it,” that would help him lead CNN.
“If you haven’t learned anything from your failures you haven’t learned anything,” Zucker replied, while, in our head, we pictured him making a note to squash Levs when he officially starts the job in January
Anticipating your question: Yes, the call had become very “SNL” sketch-like.
Another reporter told Zucker, patronizingly, that his research indicates there is “an amazing amount of good will for CNN in the media business,” but that “when you take people out for beers” they confide that CNN’s content “isn’t that good.”
While we pondered how many thousand of people the reporter’s company required him to have beers with before committing to print his study results, Zucker responded that even the New York Times should always want to be better, and “the day you stop wanting to improve is the day you should stop” working in the news business.
Yet another reporter asked Zucker to “Play along with me here” and name the one piece of on-air talent would he most like to recruit for CNN. (Zucker’s known for having tried to recruit to NBC the likes of Jon Stewart and Oprah Winfrey — not just Emeril.)
“If I were going to do that. This probably wouldn’t be the right place to let you know,” Zucker snarked.
“Like I said, I thought you’d play along,” the disappointed reporter replied — then tried again, qualifying his question by telling Zucker the on-air talent doesn’t actually have to be someone who’s contract is coming up.
“You know what — that’s a game I can’t play with you,” Zucker said, ending that line of talk.