CNN's president praises his pro-Trump panelists as 'characters in a drama'

Jeff Zucker.
(Image credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Turner)

CNN network president Jeff Zucker likes sports. You can tell, because he has modeled his network's political coverage after it. "Zucker is a big sports fan and from the early days of the [presidential] campaign had spoken at editorial meetings about wanting to incorporate elements of ESPN's programming into CNN's election coverage," The New York Times Magazine writes, in an enlightening profile on CNN and how President Trump has inadvertently come to help it thrive.

"The idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood that and approached it that way," Zucker explained to the magazine.

Throughout 2016, CNN used "pregame" sets outside debates and implemented on-air countdown clocks. Perhaps most noticeably, the network also embraced the underdog story that surrounded President Trump. But just like in sports, politics (and dramas) needs heroes and villains. Zucker found them, too:

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As Zucker sees it, his pro-Trump panelists are not just spokespeople for a worldview; they are "characters in a drama," members of CNN's extended ensemble cast. "Everybody says, 'Oh, I can't believe you have Jeffrey Lord or Kayleigh McEnany,' but you know what?" Zucker told me with some satisfaction. "They know who Jeffrey Lord and Kayleigh McEnany are." [The New York Times Magazine]

Read more about how CNN has changed to fit a post-Trump world at The New York Times Magazine.

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