Despite employing the world's most tenacious journalist, Jim Acosta, CNN was unable to get the scoop on Donald Trump's tax returns. Instead, the middling cable network has been forced to regurgitate the original reporting published in the New York Times.
For example, the headline for one CNN article reads: "4 things to know about Trump and ‘The Apprentice,' according to the New York Times." It's not very interesting, apart from the fact that, for some reason, it omits a crucial fact about Trump's rise to TV stardom.
Most people already know that Trump made a lot of money from The Apprentice. Most journalists also know that, before boosting Trump's political career with unlimited free airtime as CNN president in 2016, Jeff Zucker boosted Trump's television career as president of NBC Entertainment.
Zucker's name does not appear once in the CNN article on Trump's financial windfall as host of The Apprentice, which also made Zucker and other NBC executives very rich. "I understood the appeal of Donald Trump in a way that I don't think anybody else did," Zucker said in 2018 of his decision to hire the "publicity magnet" Trump to host the show on NBC.
In a recent New York Times article about how Zucker "created Donald Trump," media reporter Ben Smith asked the CNN boss if he had any regrets about the role he played in Trump's rise. "I have no regrets about the part that I played in his career," Zucker said after laughing "uproariously."
A leaked phone conversation between Zucker and former Trump attorney Michael Cohen in 2016 revealed that the CNN president actively advised the GOP candidate, praised his "great instincts," and offered to produce a "weekly show with [Trump]" on CNN after the election.
Zucker has been a frequent target of Trump's rage on social media. "Little Jeff Zuker [sic], whose job is in jeopardy, is not having much fun lately," the president tweeted in 2018. "They should clean up and strengthen CNN and get back to honest reporting!"