Former President Donald Trump alleged Thursday that a 90 percent drop in ratings was what really brought down CNN boss Jeff Zucker, who abruptly resigned in disgrace Wednesday after admitting he had withheld a long-running romantic affair with the network’s chief spokeswoman, Allison Gollust.
”Jeff Zucker is not out at CNN for ‘concealing a relationship’ as the Fake New York Times writes on its front page headline,” Trump said in an emailed statement. “Zucker is happy and proud (and lucky!) that he can have a relationship.
“He is out because of horrible ratings down 90%, an all-time low!,” the 45th president added.
After Zucker stepped down on Wednesday, Trump blasted the cable news honcho as a “world-class sleazebag” who was “terminated for numerous reasons, but predominantly because CNN has lost its way with viewers and everybody else.”
Although the two often feuded during Trump’s years in office over the network’s coverage of his administration, the relationship between the two wasn’t always so strained.
As president of NBC Entertainment, Zucker helped make Trump a household name two decades ago by greenlighting his reality show “The Apprentice,” giving rise to the real estate mogul’s famous tagline, “You’re fired!”
In 2016, when Zucker was running CNN he told then-Trump fixer Michael Cohen that he wanted Trump to host a weekly show on the network.
“You guys have had great instincts, great guts and great understanding of everything. But you’re missing the boat on how it works going forward,” the CNN boss told Cohen during the March 2016 conversation, which was revealed in a recording played on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show in September 2020.
Cohen also said that Zucker told him: “You cannot be elected president of the United States without CNN.”
Following the December dismissal of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo after it was revealed he was secretly helping his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, fight sexual harassment allegations, the cable network’s ratings plummeted.
They fell 80 percent among total viewers from the first week of 2021, including 86 percent among the key 25-54 demographic.
CNN’s ratings in 2021 were boosted by coverage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, which gave the network its most-watched day in its four-decade history.