CNN’s head honcho, Jeff Zucker, told David Axelrod’s political podcast this week that he’s interested in potentially running for office, though he hasn’t quite ironed out the details.
Speaking to “The Axe Files,” Axelrod’s cleverly named weekly radio program, Zucker said he hasn’t ruled out a second career in front of the camera, rather than behind it.
“With regard to be where I’ll be in five years … I don’t know for sure where I’ll be but here’s the two things I do know: if the Miami Dolphins call, that’s where I’ll be,” Zucker said, according to The Washington Free Beacon. “And number two, I still harbor somewhere in my gut that I’m still very interested in politics.”
Axelrod then pointed out that Zucker is no stranger to the political landscape. Back in 2000, former Vice President Al Gore, who was competing for the nation’s top job against newcomer Texas governor George W. Bush, asked Zucker to help coordinate his on-air communications and improve his messaging.
“You turned down an opportunity to work for Al Gore in 2000,” Axelrod said. “You’ve talked in the past about potentially running for office.”
“So, I’m still interested in that, and it’s something I would consider,” Zucker replied.
It would be a unique move for Zucker, who has been in the media business for decades and began as a field researcher for NBC’s coverage of the 1988 Summer Olympics, according to Wikipedia. He then worked his way up at NBC until he took over the network in the early 2000s, where he ushered in the “reality television” era with shows like “The Apprentice” — which eventually gave now-President Donald Trump national exposure.
Zucker has been president of CNN since 2013.
If he does end up in the political arena, though, it might by years before he declares his intent to run for anything other than president of CNN. The LA Times reports that Zucker inked a deal with the network over the summer that will keep him at the helm of CNN until at least 2020, partly because Zucker has turned CNN into a major media foil for the President.
“CNN has delivered solid ratings and revenue growth under Zucker’s watch, exceeding $1 billion in profits in each of the last two years,” the LA Times says. “Trump has largely been responsible for the boost, as viewing for all of the cable news networks has grown since the real estate mogul-turned-reality TV star formally entered politics as a presidential candidate in 2015.”
That’s good news for the rest of the Democratic field. At the moment, if Zucker declared an intention to run for President in 2020, even taking a financial loss by leaving CNN early and breaking his contract, he’d be up against at least 30 other presidential contenders. At last count, the Democrats have senators, representatives, former governors and former mayors all contending for the top prize: the opportunity to unseat President Donald Trump.
Zucker would likely be no one’s top choice, though the face off would be entertaining.