Apparently the Trump administration is worried that despite the president calling CNN “fake news” at every opportunity, the network isn’t aware that he doesn’t care for their coverage. The Wall Street Journal reports that during a recent meeting with a top Time Warner Inc. executive Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, complained that the network’s coverage is biased against the president.
Kushner is a longtime friend of Gary Ginsberg, who’s an executive vice-president of corporate marketing and communications at CNN’s parent company. During a wide-ranging discussion at the White House, Kushner reportedly complained about specific anti-Trump CNN contributors, including Van Jones, a Democrat who worked in the Obama administration, and Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist.
They did not discuss Time Warner’s proposed $85.4 billion sale to AT&T, which is awaiting government approval. In an October speech, President Trump said his administration would not approve the merger “because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Bloomberg reported that Trump’s opposition to the deal actually comes “partly from his frustration with CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.”
President Trump’s wild press conference on Thursday included several lengthy and inaccurate attacks on CNN. At one point he told CNN’s Jim Acosta, “Okay, well ask Jeff Zucker how he got his job … we do have a lot of people in here, and your ratings aren’t as good as some of the other people who are waiting here.”
As New York’s Gabriel Sherman reported last month, sources say Trump feels personally betrayed by CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, who put The Apprentice on the air when he was president of NBC Entertainment. Trump thinks his recommendation to Turner Broadcasting’s then-CEO Phil Kent got Zucker the CNN job, though Turner had reportedly already decided to hire Zucker.
Shortly before Trump bashed the network at Thursday’s press conference, Zucker dismissed the effect of the president’s criticism at a meeting with reporters in New York. Zucker admitted that he was initially concerned, and even commissioned a survey of public attitudes about CNN last month. It found “there has been no diminution whatsoever in the strength of our brand,” he said. In the beginning of 2017, the network’s ratings have also been up 51 percent from the year before.
Zucker said, despite what the president claims, CNN is not out to get Trump — nor are its reporters bothered by his constant jabs. “They wear those insults as a badge of honor, because it means they are doing their jobs,” he said of the network’s reporters and employees. “I would say that morale is incredibly high … They are not being intimidated, they are not backing down, they know they have my full support and it is a very exciting time, frankly, to be a journalist at CNN.”
Ana Navarro certainly didn’t seem upset to learn that the Trump administration doesn’t like her commentary.