Tags: Jeff Zucker | CNN | ratings | Fox News

CNN's Jeff Zucker: 'We'd Be Thrilled to Have Fox's Numbers'

CNN's Jeff Zucker: 'We'd Be Thrilled to Have Fox's Numbers'
President of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Landov)

By    |   Wednesday, 18 February 2015 02:56 PM

CNN President Jeff Zucker usually sticks to placing a positive spin on how his network is performing by highlighting the demographic areas where the once-dominant cable network shines, but he conceded that "we'd be thrilled to have Fox's numbers" during a recent interview.

"Listen, we should only have Fox News' numbers. We'd be thrilled to have Fox's numbers, and they deserve a lot of credit. With regards to MSNBC, I can't speak to why they've declined dramatically — we're just focused on what we're doing here now," he told The Wrap.

CNN's ratings have improved under Zucker's tenure, moving up 59 percent in viewers and 62 percent in the much-sought after 25-54 demo during the day. Their nighttime viewership also improved, rising 35 percent in total viewers and 50 percent in the 25-54 demographic during the week.

One of the reasons he attributes to CNN's recovery in the ratings war was the decision to focus on news.

"Everyone said we were getting out of news. We doubled down on news," he said, adding that he believes "we've reconfirmed that CNN stands for news, and our commitment to covering news on a global scale is clear. And there's been a tremendous amount of news — especially international news — and we've committed to covering that."

And it was their doubling down on events like the riots last summer in Ferguson, Missouri that have helped to push the network past MSNBC.

Although Fox News led among total viewers during the events in Ferguson, CNN dominated in the adults 25-54 demographic, particularly during nighttime viewing, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Zucker also told The Wrap that he does not encourage anchors to "personalize" the news, but welcomes it when anchors like Jake Tapper diverge from straight reporting and inject some opinion into their coverage.

"I hope I've encouraged an atmosphere where they know that is OK, and we're comfortable with it. I think that's made CNN better. I think what Jake did in Paris; what Jake did in calling out folks who didn't vaccinate their children; I think Chris Cuomo's 25-minute, uninterrupted interview with the Chief Judge in Alabama is another example of it," he said.

Asked what he thought about the scandal surrounding NBC News anchor Brian Williams over his falsification of news accounts of his coverage in Iraq and during Hurricane Katrina, he said the suspended reporter committed "serious mistakes," but expressed sympathy for him.

"I haven't said anything about what's happening to Brian, but I will say that it's obviously incredibly sad at this point to see what's happened to Brian. It's incredibly disappointing to see what's happening. He was a colleague of mine, a friend for many years. And so I feel really badly for him on a very human level. Unfortunately it has obscured a lot of fantastic work that Brian did, But what's clear is he made incredibly serious mistakes," Zucker conceded during a separate interview with The Wrap.

Zucker, who came to the network two years ago, also recently expressed his desire to lure Jon Stewart, the former host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" to CNN.

"I'm a huge admirer of what Jon Stewart does. We'd love to have him here at CNN. Would there ever be room for him? The answer is yes." he told a group of reporters during a promotional tour for the new nonfiction series, "The Wonder List," reports Daily Variety.

However, Zucker said it was unlikely that after 17 years as host of "The Daily Show" that Stewart would join CNN.

"I believe we have re-established the brand identity that this is the place for news," Zucker told The Wrap. "When the Paris terror attacks happen, when war breaks out in Ukraine, when unrest happens in Ferguson, people know that CNN is the place to come."

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CNN President Jeff Zucker conceded that "we'd be thrilled to have Fox's numbers" during a recent interview.
Jeff Zucker, CNN, ratings, Fox News
Wednesday, 18 February 2015 02:56 PM
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