After President-elect Donald Trump refused to take a question from a CNN reporter at a press conference, the media outlet's president said that Trump is trying to "delegitimize journalism" by cherry-picking which news networks have access to him and vowed to do everything in his power to keep the next administration in check.
"It's just unfortunate that the most powerful person in the world is trying to delegitimize journalism and an organization that plays such a vital role in our democracy," Jeff Zucker, the head of CNN Worldwide, told New York Magazine during an interview that was released on Jan. 18. "I think he's entitled to his opinion, but it's -- to use one of his favorite words -- sad."
Zucker said that he is not concerned about his network losing access to the White House, saying that it would be a "big mistake" to isolate the press and rely only on Twitter and conservative news sources like Breitbart and Fox News:
I think the era of access journalism as we've known it is over. It doesn't worry me that Donald Trump hasn't done an interview with CNN in eight months. I think our credibility is higher than ever, and our viewership is higher than ever, and our reporting is as strong as ever. One of the things I think this administration hasn't figured out yet is that there’s only one television network that is seen in Beijing, Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo, Pyongyang, Baghdad, Tehran, and Damascus — and that's CNN. The perception of Donald Trump in capitals around the world is shaped, in many ways, by CNN. Continuing to have an adversarial relationship with that network is a mistake.
Zucker's comments came just days after Trump shot down a question from CNN'S Jim Acosta at a press conference on Jan. 11.
"Your organization is terrible," Trump said at the time, according to The Hill "Don't be rude. No, I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news."
Zucker told New York Magazine that CNN will work tirelessly to ensure "accountability of government," even though it will be "very challenging" to access the administration.
"I think the press plays a much more important role in this administration," Zucker added. "We think that CNN has a job to do, which is to hold their feet to the fire. They may not like it, but they should respect it."