The Real Reason Jeff Zucker Is Leaving CNN

Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, is preparing to embark on new territory in 2021. After getting his start on NBC in the late '80s, Zucker took on a position at CNN in 2013, Daily Mail reported. However, his close ties to Donald Trump resurfaced during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Zucker and Trump had previously worked together after he helped the real estate tycoon secure his hosting gig on The Apprentice in 2004. 

In September 2020, Zucker was hurled into a scandal after Fox News' Tucker Carlson played leaked audio from a private conversation the CNN head had with Trump's "disgraced" attorney Michael Cohen in March 2016. Zucker was accused of offering Trump a weekly show on the network just hours before the GOP primary debate that CNN was hosting. In Carlson's report, Zucker was heard telling Cohen that "you cannot be elected president of the United States without CNN." He then was called out for sending an email to Cohen where he admitted to wanting to "talk to [Trump] every day," but was reluctant because "I've just got to be careful," he wrote. 

Additionally, a rift ignited after Jason Kilar took over WarnerMedia in May 2020, per Next TV. As the CEO of CNN's parent company, Kilar restructured the direction of the network and took away Zucker's power over the "financial, human resources, and communications departments." Insiders even claimed Zucker was given "less than a day's notice" of the drastic changes.

Jeff Zucker is ready to 'move on' from CNN

By February 2021, Jeff Zucker officially announced his departure from CNN after almost 10 years of leading the news network. "I'm going to stay and finish my current contract, which, as I said, will keep me here until the end of this year," Zucker told his staff, the Daily Mail reported. "At that point, I do expect to move on." It turns out the decade-long president finalized his decision to leave the network in November 2020. "The truth is, back in November and December I had basically decided that it was time to move on."

At the time, an unnamed CNN employee voiced their disappointment over Zucker leaving due to underlying tension between him and WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, via Vanity Fair. "Jason Kilar has no idea what's about to walk out the door," the staffer claimed. CNN anchor Jake Tapper praised Zucker after his resignation announcement, according to The New York Times. "He's the best boss I ever had, and it's not even close," said Tapper. "I'm grateful that we get him for another year." At least Zucker was able to leave a legacy at the network before exiting stage left.