Jeff Zucker said all the right words during his speech at the Radio Television Digital News Foundation awards gala in Washington last night.
In accepting the First Amendment Award, the CNN chief said suing president Trump after he yanked White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials was the most uncomfortable but easiest decision of his career.
“We sued the president of the United States because on that day it was CNN, but on any other day, it could have been any one of you,” he said. “This administration has made it abundantly clear that they do not have respect for or tolerance of a free and independent press.”
Kudos to Jeff for his criticism of Trump, but was the speech a case of buyer's remorse? After all, Zucker put Trump on the national map. In turn, The Donald was Zucker’s professional meal ticket.
As head of NBC Entertainment, Zucker rescued Trump from financial oblivion and Page Six of the New York Post by casting him as the business genius on “The Apprentice.”
Zucker transformed the image of a guy who perfected “The Art of the Bankruptcy” four times (Taj Mahal casino, Trump Plaza Hotel, Trump Hotels & Resorts and Trump Entertainment Resorts) into a shrewd businessman with a golden touch.
A ratings smash, "The Apprentice" spawned “The Celebrity Apprentice” and spurred Zucker’s rise to the top spot at NBC.
In shifting to CNN, Zucker continued to carry Trump’s water, giving his presidential campaign wall-to-wall coverage. Trump was ratings gold for Zucker, just as he was at NBC on "The Apprentice."
And the best goes on.
Zucker did receive some heat last month for hiring a Trump official, Justice Dept. spokesperson Sarah Isgur, as political editor.
The hiring of Isgur, who has been critical of CNN’s coverage of the White House, is part of Zucker's plan to bring in conservative voices to the now AT&T-owned network. Isn't that what Fox News is all about?
It looks like the shoe is now on the other foot.
Zucker appears to be Trump’s apprentice.