CNN chief Jeff Zucker reportedly defended the network’s decision to continue airing President Trump’s coronavirus press briefings on Monday amid criticism that the briefings have essentially taken the place of the President’s campaign rallies and spread misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a Daily Beast report Monday, Zucker said during an internal employee call that he has “probably spent more time on this topic than anything else believe it or not” by fielding an increasing amount of emails and calls on the subject.
Last week, the Daily Beast reported that CNN and MSNBC staffers pleaded for their networks to cut Trump’s coronavirus press briefings, arguing that they’re “open-mic nights” full of “misinformation.”
The press briefings typically run for about two hours, with Trump oscillating between pats on the back for himself, vitriol for the media and anyone he feels is against him and ramblings about whatever is on his mind at the time.
Multiple sources told the Daily Beast that in addition to arguing the importance of airing critical information from coronavirus task force members such as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, Zucker also believes that it’s important for CNN’s audience to see how the President handles reporters’ tough questions.
Acknowledging that the network considered airing parts of the briefings after they’ve aired, Zucker reportedly told employees in the call he’s comfortable with the “very difficult decision” to continue airing the briefings live due to the opportunity for reporters to ask questions.
Prior to his briefing Sunday evening, President Trump tore into the media by touting the high ratings of his coronavirus press conferences in a series of tweets.
TPM reached out to CNN, MSNBC and Fox News for comment about the briefings. We will update this post if we hear back.