CNN Zucker Air Raid: Rival Networks ‘Lock Up Their Talent’

Could CNN’s new boss Jeff Zucker be putting the moves on Fox’s fox Megyn Kelly?  And other news stars?

There hasn’t even been an official announcement (“soon,” Time Warner chief Jeff Bewkes)  but:

NYP (owned by Fox’s parent company) reports rival networks’ “lawyers” (read Fox) have made moves to “lock up their talent.” Kelly‘s contract is up next year. Before Thanksgiving Fox boss Roger Ailes (who had to know Zucker took the CNN gig) told TVNewser:

We’d love her to stay here and be even a bigger star. So I’m not going to go past that. I’d be stunned if she wanted to go any other cable channel. That’s a real dive off a high cliff. If somebody wanted her to host the “Today” show or something, she’d have to look at that I suppose. Nobody’s ever left here and made it and a lot of people who left other places have done really well here.

A “pal” tells the Post:  “He has no intention of showing up and making those changes — he’ll give it some time.”

The Murdoch-owned paper takes a punch at CNN’s current primetime lineup with a photo of the annoying, tedious, narcissistic, one-dimensional cipher Piers Morgan” (who tweeted “My Old Boss is my New Boss.”  Maybe not for long). Yes, Piers, one day you’re the cock of the walk, the next, a feather duster.

Comely CNN cipher Erin Burnett.  Empty suit Mark Whitaker (Tim Russert‘s unworthy and reviled in some quarters successor at NBC) will surely be blown out by Zucker.

Mark Whitaker, who arrived from Newsweek in early 2011 as the managing editor of CNN Worldwide, might be vulnerable, simply because he was a recent hire of the soon-to-depart Walton, CNN sources speculated.

Others in the line of fire could be executives associated with CNN’s primetime lineup, these sources added.

That lineup, which features “Erin Burnett OutFront” at 7 p.m., Anderson Cooper’s “AC360,” at 8 p.m. and “Piers Morgan Tonight” at 9 p.m., averaged just 616,000 viewers in the third quarter.

The mediocre performance badly trailed MSBC’s average audience of 935,000 viewers during that period and FNC’s average audience of 1.99 million .

Burnett hailed from CNBC, where Jeff Zucker helped make her a star. Morgan was hired by Zucker to work on “America’s Got Talent,” and is said to be telling people he has a good relationship with Zucker.

Baltimore Sun TV critic David Zurawik (talking head on CNN’s Reliable Sources) takes a shot at Fox’s crack PR shop:

You can bet Zucker, who is hardly press-shy, won’t let the PR departments at other cable channels shape media reporters’ perceptions of CNN as they do now without hitting back. Here’s a guy who can stand up to Roger Ailes — and do it with some professional dignity as he works to regain the respect CNN deserves for its journalism.

The Twitterverse weighed in on Zucker with program suggestions like “Wolf Blitzer:  Special Victims Unit” and “O’REILLY FEAR FACTOR”.  THR.

NYT‘s Brian Stelter imagines the “Dear Jeff” suggestions in Zucker‘s email inbox.

Thursday, November 29, 2012 @ 6:05 AM

  • Jimbotalk

    If there’s a way to rescue CNN, with or without sharp elbows, the Motherzucker will find it.
    Hey–I think Larry King’s still available.

    • Marty Davis

      I’d dump the awful morning team.  CNN’s never been able to succeed there and that daypart has been a succession of musical chairs.

      I’d get rid of Piers Morgan, Erin Burnett posthaste. 

      Depending on which direction Zucker decides to brand CNN, I hear Laura Ingraham may be available.  If he wants to veer right, that is.