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CNN stars staunchly defending Jeff Zucker aren't helping their cause: They'd rather stand by a beloved boss than abide by journalistic values

  • "Controversial as he was, damned though he was in many circles for his role in building up and promoting Donald Trump, Zucker was, to many, a beloved boss, seen as an essential player by his staff," says Kim Masters. "But journalists are supposed to be skeptical, to consider that there may be facts they don’t know. Sometimes they have to confront facts that they do know but don’t like. And though it was clearly an emotional day at CNN, journalists are supposed to keep their cool, even in the midst of war. Recently, we’ve seen a reporter literally get hit by a car during a live broadcast, and she still finished her segment. That’s not recommended, but it’s what reporters do. Yet within hours of the Zucker news breaking, Alisyn Camerota was on the air, decrying the decision to force his resignation. 'If what you’re reporting is true, these are two consenting adults who are both executives,' she told CNN’s Brian Stelter. 'That they can’t have a private relationship feels wrong.' In a subsequent meeting in CNN’s Washington bureau that evening, with WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, Dana Bash is reported to have complained that 'the punishment did not fit the crime.' Some in the group seemed to have rushed to the conclusion that Kilar had seized an opportunity to vanquish an adversary, using a minor violation that should have been forgiven. And maybe that is an element of the story. Possibly, as some have speculated, incoming chief David Zaslav might not mind getting a clear shot at reshaping CNN without having to confront his close friend Zucker (assuming the Discovery-Warner Media deal is approved). But maybe outraged CNN staffers could have noticed some things, starting with the fact that Zucker and (Allison) Gollust didn’t exactly come clean in the statements they issued that day. Zucker said that when asked, 'I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years.' Imagine a politician in the middle of this type of scandal who says the relationship 'evolved in recent years.' Any reporter would dismiss that as vague, unsatisfactory and demanding more precision." Masters adds: "If Chris Cuomo is, in fact, the bad guy winning, it’s reasonable to ask: Who gave him the ammunition to get the job done? And there were questions that went beyond the mere fact of a Zucker-Gollust relationship, though similar conduct has cost other top executives their jobs in recent years. Dealings with the Cuomo brothers have been uncomfortable enough, even if there are no more shoes to drop about their interactions with Zucker and Gollust."


    TOPICS: Jeff Zucker, CNN, Don Lemon Tonight, Don Lemon, Cable News