CNN host tells Jeff Zucker that he made network ‘partisan’ by not covering Hunter Biden laptop story

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Former CNN boss Jeff Zucker was confronted by CNN host Michael Smerconish in a conversation about media, telling him it was ‘partisan’ to not give much air time to the scandal surrounding Hunter Biden‘s laptop. 

Zucker and Smerconish were joined by former MSNBC boss Phil Griffin for a talk on the state of media at the Un-Convention in Philadelphia.

The convention was billed as ‘an exploration of political reforms to improve our election systems and policy ideas to govern a divided country.’

Smerconish grilled the two former bosses at one point over the Hunter Biden controversy and asked if they ‘regret’ the coverage – or lack thereof – they gave the story. 

CNN host tells Jeff Zucker that he made network ‘partisan’ by not covering Hunter Biden laptop story

CNN host Michael Smerconish grilled former CNN boss Jeff Zucker over a lack of airtime for the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden’s laptop, and said it looked ‘partisan

Zucker, left, said he does not disagree with Smerconish's assessment, but also argued the network did not have enough facts to accurately cover the scandal

Zucker, left, said he does not disagree with Smerconish’s assessment, but also argued the network did not have enough facts to accurately cover the scandal

The laptop Hunter Biden reportedly left at a Delaware repair shop contained masses of incriminating pictures, videos and texts, including extensive dealings with prostitutes

The laptop Hunter Biden reportedly left at a Delaware repair shop contained masses of incriminating pictures, videos and texts, including extensive dealings with prostitutes

Biden, who has continuously struggled with drug addiction, is often seen naked in the videos and pictures found on the laptop

Biden, who has continuously struggled with drug addiction, is often seen naked in the videos and pictures found on the laptop

‘I think that the Hunter laptop was worthy of more airing than it received right before the election,’ said Smerconish.

Zucker firstly claimed the network ‘did not know enough about it’ and also said they ‘did deal with it… to the degree that you would have thought was appropriate.’

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He continued that he did not think it was a ‘legitimate criticism,’ before asking Smerconish if he covered the story. 

Smerconish said he ‘talked about it extensively’ but also said Zucker was right that he himself did not give the issue much air time.   

‘I think I look bad by not talking about it at all. I should have said something about the damn issue,’ he said. 

Smerconish then said that regardless of not knowing all the facts, ‘I think that we looked partisan by not giving it some air,’ to which Zucker replied ‘I don’t disagree with that.’

He also asked Griffin about the scandal, to which Griffin responded ‘he was never arrested. The Justice Department was looking into it, never reported it until he is the son of a candidate. I don’t think it’s a main story until that happens.’

The conversation then moved on to the topic of former President Donald Trump, and Smerconish again grilled Zucker on coverage.

Smerconish asked Zucker if he regrets ‘giving Trump as much air as you gave him in 2016?’

‘Of course I do. I’ve admitted this publicly,’ Zucker replied.

Phil Griffin, former President of MSNBC, was also asked about the Hunter Biden controversy but responded he doesn't think it's a 'main story' until Biden is arrested

Phil Griffin, former President of MSNBC, was also asked about the Hunter Biden controversy but responded he doesn’t think it’s a ‘main story’ until Biden is arrested

Zucker had been president of CNN worldwide since 2013 before leaving his $6million-a-year post due to not disclosing a consensual relationship with another CNN employee

Zucker had been president of CNN worldwide since 2013 before leaving his $6million-a-year post due to not disclosing a consensual relationship with another CNN employee

Republicans have raised questions about Hunter’s dealings in Ukraine while his father was Barack Obama’s Vice President as well as his business in China, which is detailed in the trove of emails found on a hard drive from a laptop he purportedly left at a Delaware repair shop. 

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Zucker, who stepped down from the network after his affair with staffer Allison Gollust was revealed, has seen a change in personnel at his former network by new boss Chris Licht. 

Licht has reportedly aimed to shift the network away from opinions and more towards hard news.  

Zucker had been president of CNN worldwide since 2013 before leaving his $6million-a-year post on February 2. 

He admitted to employees that he violated the company’s Standards of Business Conduct when he failed to disclose a ‘consensual relationship.’

Chris Licht has taken over at the network and is trying to shake its reputation for bias

Chris Licht has taken over at the network and is trying to shake its reputation for bias

Zucker and Gollust, 49, had worked together for 20 years. They claim their relationship turned romantic during the pandemic but others say it far predates COVID.

Media sources have said the affair was an ‘open secret’ for more than 10 years – claiming even the doormen at their Manhattan apartment building tried to keep Allison and Zucker’s now ex-wife from interacting.

Both Zucker and Gollust are divorced. Zucker and his wife, Caryn, split in 2018 and Gollust is understood to have separated from her husband, Billy, around the same time, if not earlier.

Zucker and Gollust lived in the same apartment building on the Upper East Side with their respective families until Jeff sold his in 2020, after he and his ex-wife Caryn Nathanson split.

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