Jeff Zucker's time leading CNN included these 5 truly shocking moments

Zucker’s actions an ‘embarrassment’ for CNN: Kurtz

‘MediaBuzz’ host Howard Kurtz reports on CNN President Jeff Zucker’s resignation over failing to disclose a consensual relationship with his colleague.

CNN President Jeff Zucker resigned on Wednesday for failing to disclose a “consensual relationship” with an employee. But what’s truly amazing is that the long line of scandals and embarrassing moments during Zucker’s tenure didn’t force him out earlier.

Nearly a decade with Zucker at the helm transformed CNN from a liberal news outlet to a blatant tool for leftist politics. The network had many memorable moments from two different staffers accused of sex crimes involving juveniles to three employees resigning over a fake news Russia attack on President Donald Trump. 

Here are five truly memorable aspects of Zucker’s time leading CNN:

1. The Fiasco that was the Brothers Cuomo

One of the most unethical aspects of Zucker’s time as CNN’s boss might also have been his undoing. Zucker allowed then-anchor Chris Cuomo to lead the network’s efforts to promote Chris’ brother Andrew, then-New York governor. 

Jeff Zucker, former CNN president. New CNN management plans to honor Zucker by sticking to his losing formula. 
(Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images/Fille)

The dynamic duo made headlines together as Chris yucked it up with Andrew, joking about COVID-19 testing as Americans died by thousands. The whole effort was part of the network’s poorly concealed promotion of the governor as a potential fill-in if Biden didn’t make it to the election finish line.

First, Andrew was implicated in numerous sexual harassment allegations, costing him his job. Then it was uncovered that Chris had been instrumental in his brother’s defense effort, even gathering dirt on the accusers.

CNN media reporter Brian Stelter raised the possibility that Chris Cuomo might have set the departure in motion. Stelter wrote that Cuomo “was going to court trying to burn the place down and claiming he had incriminating information.” He then raised the possibility that “this is a domino effect that begins with Andrew Cuomo and Chris Cuomo being fired.”

2. The ‘mostly peaceful’ protests chyron that defined media BLM/Antifa riots coverage

The 2020 Black Lives Matter/Antifa riots did billions of dollars in damage. Roughly two dozen people killed, businesses looted and burned and none of that was the enduring image of rioting. Instead, it was a simple bit of CNN propaganda that defined both the protests and the biased media coverage.

CNN’s “Early Start” turned to correspondent Omar Jimenez who told viewers the chaotic incidents “which were largely peaceful demonstrations.”

Jim Acosta emerged as a CNN favorite when he was a White house reporter during the Trump administration. (Reuters/Carlos Barria)

The chyron, or words that appeared on screen with him, was written in all caps as fires burned behind him. “FIERY BUT MOSTLY PEACEFUL PROTESTS AFTER POLICE SHOOTING.”

In a year when journalists went out of their way to pretend riots never happened, that chyron became a rallying cry for CNN critics. 

3. CNN’s war against Trump and White House correspondent Jim Acosta

Then-White House correspondent Jim Acosta (D-Diva) was the angry face of CNN throughout the Trump administration. He harangued, lectured and got in fights with the president and his staff.

In one memorable dust-up, Acosta refused to give up the microphone and tried to filibuster. Trump slammed him as a “terrible person.” (Duh!) Eventually, Trump let him have it with both barrels. “Honestly I think you should let me run the country. You run CNN and if you did it well, your ratings would be much higher.”

Don Lemon attends the "Mary J Blige’s My Life" New York premiere at Rose Theater, Jazz at Lincoln Center on June 23, 2021.
(Theo Wargo/Getty Images/File)

4. The Embarrassment that is Anchor Don Lemon

Zucker didn’t hire anchor Don Lemon. But he kept him around after a parade of gaffes and embarrassing moments. Lemon became the Clown Prince of the network. Even when he ridiculously suggested the Malaysian jetliner might have been sucked up by a black hole, he just got a slap on the wrist. (Zucker was even quoted in New York magazine saying of Lemon, “Don, don’t be an idiot.”)

Lemon evolved to take race baiting to new lows. Here’s an unforgettable quote from last January, as the “unity party” was taking over. “If you voted for Trump, you voted for the person who the Klan supported. You voted for the person who Nazis support. You voted for the person who the alt-right supports. That’s the crowd that you are in.”

That’s Zucker’s legacy. 

5. Promoting the ‘creepy porn lawyer’ Michael Avenatti as presidential timber

No list of CNN embarrassments would be complete without “creepy porn lawyer” Michael Avenatti. CNN gave America round-the-clock coverage of Avenatti attacking Trump.

Zucker’s network gave Avenatti 122 appearances to push his rants against Trump.

The PR blitz got so ridiculous that media maven Stelter predicted that Avenatti was a potential 2024 Democrat presidential candidate. He told viewers that his “hunch” was that “every U.S. president from here on out will be a television star of some sort.” 

Then he went to Crazy Land: “So, that hunch brings me to Michael Avenatti. He doesn’t have much of a political record, but he does know his way around a TV studio.”

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