, 30 tweets, 7 min read Read on Twitter
Jeff Zucker is a Fuqqer

"U R *guiding the *unscripted scene
unfolding on the bank of monitors in front of u,
*shaping the event
in real time
2 maximize
emotional impact of the moment.

Does he work 4 Cambridge Analytica or something?
But then along came a presidential candidate
who was a human breaking-news event.

tRUmp provided drama + conflict
every time he opened his mouth.
So too did his growing band of surrogates,
who were paid by either campaign or network,
+ in 1 case both,
2 defend his statements.
It was Zucker who,
as president of NBC Entertainment,
broadcast “The Apprentice”
at a time when tRUmp was little more than
an overextended real estate promoter
w a failing casino business.
Kalev Leetaru, a data scientist,
using information obtained from
the TV News Archive,
calculated CNN mentioned
tRUmp’s name
nearly 8 times more frequently 👈
than that of 2nd-place finisher, Ted Cruz,
during primaries.
When he 1st arrived CNN

Zucker known 4 being obsessed w ratings
wanted 2 “broaden the definition of news”.

Don Lemon interviewed a llama in prime time.

“the biggest story we could ever imagine”
Only thing better
than having DT on ur network
is having him attack it.
Far from hurting CNN,
tRUmp’s war against it
has amounted 2 a form of
product placement:
“earned media,” u could say
giving its anchors + correspondents
starring roles in ongoing political drama,
turning them into camera-ready warriors 4 1A.🤦‍♂️
🤔In Zucker's Office:

When CNN hired
former tRUmp campaign mngr
Corey Lewandowski as contributor
just days after fired by campaign.

'Surprised 2 find it in Zucker’s office.'

“I like it,” Zucker replied.
“I think it’s funny.”
About 2 yrs N2 Zucker’s tenure at NBC,
producer Mark Burnett walked N2 his office
on NBC Burbank lot, w a possible solution:
A new reality-TV show called “The Apprentice,”
in which group of contestants would compete
4 a job w tRUmp.

Zucker knew tRUmp would ensure publicity.
“Sex sells,”
tRUmp declared at conclusion of 1st episode,
after the show’s women
fared better than its men
at running lemonade stands. 🤦‍♂️

tRUmp became *star of show.

Didn’t matter what was real + wasn’t.

Central chars didn’t need 2 B likable.
Just compulsively watchable.👈
Zucker was introducing DT
2 advertisers as man who saved NBC.
But Zucker saved Trump, too.
He had been thru 4 bankruptcies,
w 5th + 6th around corner.

In just a few yrs’ time,
Trump would have his own star
on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame
+ leveraging his new celebrity N2 WH bid.
“U think any of this
would have happened without
‘The Apprentice?’ ”
Trump asked,
as Zucker moved past him.

“Nope,” Zucker answered.

‘I’ve always had
a little bit of
a populist take on things.
Which I know is interesting
when you talk about Donald Trump.’

Trump complained to CNN
his interviews on network
were always followed by
conversations among panelists
who all seemed 2 hate him. 🤣

Network asked tRUmp
2 suggest names 👈
of some people who would defend him.
1 of those whom he mentioned was Jeffrey Lord.
Lord made his CNN debut
in July '15.

2 wks later,
CNN offered him job as network’s
1st pro-Trump contributor.

Lord defending baseless claim of
wiretapping plot against him,
saying Orange Mob Blob
was just speaking

Lord sparring partner, Van Jones
1 night when Trump under fire
4 failing 2 immediately denounce
David Duke,
former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan,
Lord rallied 2 his defense
w historical attack,
calling K.K.K.
“the military arm,
the terrorist arm of the Democratic Party.”👈🤦‍♂️
Let the Games Begin

Zucker, big sports fan.
Avid viewer of ESPN rage-fueled debates.👈🤦‍♂️

“The idea politics is sport is undeniable,
+ we understood that + approached it that way,”🤦‍♂️

At postelection panel
sponsored by Harvard University,👈
Zucker’s alma mater,
WaPo Karen Tumulty, drew cheers
when she pressed him about his willingness 2 provide platform 2 “nut-job surrogates” like Katrina Pierson,
who asserted Pres Obama invaded Afghanistan.🤦‍♂️
Zucker knew his hiring of Lewandowski
would create controversy
+ in turn
give his anchors something 2 talk about.

That is exactly what happened:
The hiring became a cable-news story
about cable news.🤦‍♂️
Zucker sees his pro-Trump panelists
R not just spokespeople 4 worldview;
they R “characters in a drama,”
members of an ensemble cast.
“Everybody says,
‘Oh, I can’t believe u have Lord or McEnany,’
but u know what?”
Zucker says,
“They know who Lord + McEnany R.”
Jeffrey Zucker
about Orange Mob Blob

“I like Donald.”
"He’s affable. He’s funny.” [ huh? When? 🤔 ]
“He’s good company."

Zucker was fired
after Comcast purchased
NBC Universal in 2011.

He left w his reputation tarnished,
having made high-profile blunder
in late-night wars: 👈
He moved Jay Leno 2 prime time,
an instant ratings debacle.
tRUmp sang Zucker’s praises
2 Turner Broadcasting System’s
chief executive at time,
Phil Kent,
who was in charge of hiring 4 exec position,
when 2 were seated nxt2 each other
at a black-tie charity dinner
at the Plaza Hotel
hosted by American Turkish Society.📌👈
Jared Kushner,
carried msg 2 Zucker,
not long after CNN took
unprecedented step of fact-checking
tRUmp’s statements
Lrg # of which were completely untrue
in real-time w on-screen chyrons.

Kushner told Zucker over phone
Blob would only do interviews w friendly outlets.
Buh-Bye CNN?

4 thin-skinned tRUmp,
TV star + now approval-craving politician,
it was tactical but also personal:

He believed he had gotten
Zucker his job at CNN
+ network’s increasingly aggressive
coverage of him was an act of betrayal.👈
So mob.
“The president is
certainly entitled 2 believe
whatever he likes about our conversation,”
Phil Kent TBS exec
wrote me in an email,
“however, it was not a factor
in the decision 2 hire Jeff.”
After Locker Room Debacle
Zucker received email from Trump,
via Hope Hicks:
“Jeff. Too bad u (CNN) couldn’t be honest
w how well I did in debate.
Dumbest thing I ever did
was get u job at CNN
UR most disloyal person.
Just remember,
I always seem 2 find a way 2 get even."🔥👈
Election Night 2016
Huge night 4 CNN.

They not only beat other cable-news channels;
they beat Big 4 networks.

“I thought I needed CNN 2 win,” tRUmp said.

“Imagine how much u would have won by
if u had been on CNN,” Zucker replied.

It was incredibly good + warm + nice convo.
Zucker went upstairs 2 Trump’s offices
+ hung around 4 coffee table book photo shoot.
“He was incredibly chummy w me, incredibly friendly,”
Zucker says.
“It was old Donald-n-Jeff relationship;
relationship of 2 people
who have known each other 4 15 yrs.
“We actually have personality now.
People either hate or love, 🔥👈
whereas we used 2 B more milquetoast
in their minds.”
Saying CNN is no longer
neutral programming.

It’s not what’s least objectionable
people want,
it’s what’s most objectionable.
@threadreaderapp please unroll this thread on Jeff Zucker | Comcast|NBC|Universal | CNN | Orange Mob Blob
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