Donald Trump has a "mastery of television and media" that took his GOP primary competitors by surprise — and ultimately crushed them, according to CNN's Jeff Zucker, who launched the presidential nominee's TV career.
In an interview with the Financial Times
, the CNN Worldwide president who put "The Apprentice" on air while he worked at NBC derided criticism as "misplaced" that complains Trump hogs all the media attention.
According to Zucker, Trump, unlike his primary rivals, always responds to interview requests.
"The fact is that Donald Trump has a mastery of television and media that few others have, and I think that took a lot of his competitors — and a lot of observers — by surprise, in that they didn't realize that he understood the medium and was able to take advantage of that," Zucker tells FT.
"He was willing to do numerous interviews in a way that almost none of his competitors was. That's not our fault, that's their fault."
Zucker says he talk with Trump as much as in the past — saying they speak "occasionally … and it's almost always so that he can complain about CNN's coverage."
"He tweets pretty often how unhappy he is with our coverage," he tells FT.
While at NBC, Zucker ran the "Today Show" and turned it into a money-making hit, and says the successful combination of news and events has carried over to CNN.
"At the same time that we were becoming newsier, we were also becoming more 'eventized' and fun," he tells FT. "I don't think it's entirely dissimilar from what we've been able to do here, all these years later."
CNN's U.S. ratings are "significantly up," FT reports, though Fox News Channel continues to be the most watched cable news channel — and has now outstripped non-news channels to become the most watched basic cable network in America.
"We have great admiration for Fox News," he tells FT. "For what they do, they do a terrific job."
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