How has the country become more partisan

CNN boss Jeff Zucker: "Truth has become a partisan question"

Vienna - "Do you like apples?" With this question from the presenter Anna-Maria Wallner ("Presse"), the talk with Jeff Zucker, the head of the American television station CNN, began at the 25th Media Days in Vienna. Zucker understands the allusion: CNN used an apple to promote the unshakable truth. The "Facts First" campaign showed an apple, and it basically said: No matter how loudly some people shout that the fruit is a banana and how much they try to persuade people to do so - it remains an apple. "Facts have become a prison of their own ideology," said Zucker. "The truth has become a partisan question".

Ongoing topic Donald Trump

Zucker rejects the accusation that Trump became president in the first place because of the many reports about him. The CNN boss analyzes that he simply understood better than his competitors how to deal with the media.

Despite almost three years of daily reporting on Trump and numerous discussions and interviews, Zucker never tires of talking about the American president. "It's the issue that people are concerned about," said Zucker. He has had a long, special relationship with Trump - Zucker was responsible for the Apprentice show, a reality show in which Trump was looking for an employee across the country. The saying "You're fired!" ("You are fired!") Come from this show. "Back then, Trump loved me more than anyone else in the media," says Zucker.

That was also the problem during the election campaign, Trump had asked for favorable reporting from Zucker. CNN did not adhere to it and was therefore a target of Trump's attacks. It does not affect him personally if Trump tweets about him. Demands for his dismissal elicit no more than an "Okay, what's up?"

Private financing as an advantage

About the state of CNN, he said that the network had experienced the three most successful and profitable years of its existence. That is why nothing should change in the reporting for the 2020 elections: We will "focus on the facts, hold the powerful to account and report the truth".

Sugar is happy that his media company is not dependent on public funding. As in Austria, there is an ongoing debate in the USA between public and private broadcasters - although the publicly financed PBS only plays an insignificant role in the American media market. Zucker's reasoning: "It's up to Donald Trump to threaten me. I can take it, I'm a big boy. But it would make a difference if he questioned our funding on a daily basis."

"Don't back down"

On the occasion of the current debate about freedom of the media in Austria, Zucker appeals to media professionals not to let themselves get down. "You cannot back down, you have to stand up, you have to hold power to account," says the CNN boss. In his opinion, the same applies to the Austrian media as to the American media: they shouldn't be afraid to tell the facts. (Nadine Zeiler, September 26, 2018)