Jeffrey Adam Zucker[1] (born April 9, 1965)[2] is an American former media executive. Between January 2013 and February 2022, Zucker was the president of CNN Worldwide.[3] Zucker oversaw CNN, CNN International, HLN, and CNN Digital.[4][5] He was previously CEO of NBCUniversal.[6] Zucker served as an executive in residence at Columbia Business School.[7]

Jeff Zucker
Jeff Zucker - David Shankbone 2010.jpg
Zucker at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival
Jeffrey Adam Zucker

(1965-04-09) April 9, 1965 (age 57)
EducationHarvard University (AB)
OccupationChairman of WarnerMedia News & Sports (2013-2022)
Years active1986–2022
Caryn Nathanson
(m. 1996; div. 2017)

Early life and educationEdit

Zucker was born into a Jewish family[8][9] in Homestead, Florida, near Miami, on April 9, 1965.[10] His father, Matthew Zucker, was a cardiologist, and his mother, Arline, was a school teacher.[1]

He was a captain of the North Miami Senior High School tennis team,[10] editor of the school paper, and a teenage freelance reporter ("stringer") for The Miami Herald.[11] Zucker also was president of his sophomore, junior, and senior classes,[12] running on the slogan "The little man with the big ideas."[13] He graduated from North Miami Senior High School in 1982.[10] Before college, he took part in Northwestern University's National High School Institute program for journalism.[11] Zucker went on to Harvard University. He was president of the school newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, during his senior year. As such, he encouraged the Crimson's decades-old prank rivalry with the Harvard Lampoon, then headed by future NBC employee Conan O'Brien, which culminated in Zucker having O’Brien arrested.[14] Zucker graduated from Harvard in 1986 with a Bachelor of Arts in American history.[15]

Career at NBC and NBCUniversalEdit


When he was not admitted to Harvard Law School, he began working at NBC by accepting an internship at the 1988 Summer Olympics.[16]

Producer of Today ShowEdit

In 1989, he was a field producer for Today, and at 26 he became its executive producer in 1992.[17] He introduced the program's trademark outdoor rock concert series and was in charge as Today moved to the "window on the world" Studio 1A in Rockefeller Plaza in 1994. He is credited with managing the show during its most successful years and launching it into its 16 years of ratings dominance.[18]

President of NBC EntertainmentEdit

In 2000, he was named NBC Entertainment's president.[19] A 2004 BusinessWeek Profile stated that "During that time he oversaw NBC's entire entertainment schedule. He kept the network ahead of the pack by airing the gross out show Fear Factor, negotiating for the cast of the hit series Friends to take the series up to a tenth season, and signing Donald Trump for the reality show The Apprentice. He is credited with the idea to extend Friends episodes by 10 minutes and convinced the cast to extend their contracts by two years. The Friends era was one of the most profitable ever for NBC.[20] The Zucker era produced a spike in operating earnings for NBC, from $532 million the year he took over to $870 million in 2003."[13]

Zucker introduced Las Vegas, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Scrubs. He originated the idea of airing "Supersized" (longer than the standard 30-minute slot) episodes of NBC's comedies and aggressively programming in the summer months as cable networks began to draw away viewers with original programming from the network's rerun-filled summer slate. Bravo changed its programming direction towards reality television, while the newly acquired Spanish network Telemundo was positioned to be more competitive with leading network Univision.

President of NBC Entertainment's News & Cable GroupEdit

In December 2003, Zucker became president of NBC's Entertainment, News & Cable Group as well.

President of NBC Universal Television GroupEdit

Following the merger with French media empire Vivendi Universal, he became president of the newly formed NBC Universal Television Group in May 2004. Vivendi Universal had acquired Fox Interactive a year earlier in 2003. During Zucker's tenure, shows that he championed such as Father of the Pride and the Friends spinoff Joey were considered failures.[21]

Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal Television GroupEdit

On December 15, 2005, Zucker was promoted by NBC Universal to Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal Television Group behind Robert Charles Wright, vice chairman of General Electric and chairman & CEO of NBC Universal.[22] Zucker was responsible for all programming across the company’s television properties, including network, news, cable, sports and Olympics. His responsibilities also included the company’s studio operations and global distribution efforts.

President and CEO of NBC UniversalEdit

On February 6, 2007, Zucker became president and CEO of NBC Universal.

In 2010, in response to a public controversy over the network's reported rescheduling of late-night hosts Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien, Los Angeles Times reporters Meg James and Matea Gold wrote that Zucker's tenure had led to "a spectacular fall by the country's premier television network" and dubbed the intra-network feud and subsequent public relations fallout "one of the biggest debacles in television history".[23] Under Zucker NBC fell from being the number one rated network to the lowest rated of the four broadcast networks and was occasionally being beaten in the ratings by programming on some of the more popular cable channels.

Days later, The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote that in Hollywood "there has been a single topic of discussion: How does Jeff Zucker keep rising and rising while the fortunes of NBC keep falling and falling? ...many in the Hollywood community have always regarded him as ...a network Napoleon who never bothered to learn about developing shows and managing talent." She explained that Zucker "is a master at managing up with bosses and calculating cost-per-hour benefits, but even though he made money on cable shows, he could not program the network to save his life."[24]

Dowd also reported that an unnamed "honcho at another network" stated that "Zucker is a case study in the most destructive media executive ever to exist... You’d have to tell me who else has taken a once-great network and literally destroyed it."[24]

On June 2, 2010, the New York Post reported that Zucker would be paid between $30 million and $40 million to leave NBC Universal shortly after Comcast completed its 51% acquisition in the company.[25]

Career at DisneyEdit

Katie ProducerEdit

Zucker worked with fellow NBC News alum, former Today host Katie Couric, producing her daytime talk show for Disney-ABC Domestic Television, Katie.[26][27] However, Zucker left the show to be the president of CNN Worldwide.[28]

Career at WarnerMediaEdit

President of CNN WorldwideEdit

Zucker became president of CNN Worldwide on January 1, 2013. His appointment was widely welcomed by the network and its anchors. Anderson Cooper told colleagues that Zucker was "the first CNN president to actually watch CNN".[29] In December 2013, Zucker stated that his goal for the channel was to offer an "attitude and a take" to viewers, with a larger focus on reality-style documentary series (expanding upon the success of its documentary acquisition Blackfish, and new series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown). Zucker explained that he wanted CNN to appeal more to regular viewers of factual networks (such as A&E, Discovery, and History), and make larger investments into the network's digital properties.[30][31]

With the 2014 cancellation of Piers Morgan Live, CNN experimented with airing factual programming in primetime as an alternative, with Zucker stating that it would cater to younger demographics than pundit-oriented programs. However, Zucker still insisted that news remained CNN's first priority, and that these programs could be preempted for continuing coverage of breaking news events when needed.[32][33] 2014 saw an increase in daytime and primetime viewership of CNN; by October 2014, CNN had overtaken MSNBC in primetime key demographic viewership, placing second behind Fox News.[34][35][36][37]

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, a large focus was placed upon on-air debates between partisan pundits surrounding issues relating to the candidates (including, in particular, Republican candidate Donald Trump). In an interview with The New York Times, Zucker stated that aspects of its election coverage were influenced by sports channels (with the Times citing, specifically, debates between pundits reminiscent of shows such as ESPN's First Take, and large outdoor "pre-game" shows for the presidential debates), explaining that "the idea that politics is sport is undeniable, and we understood that and approached it that way."[38] In 2016, CNN reached a monthly average of 105 million unique visitors to its web and mobile properties.[39]

On February 2, 2021, Zucker announced he would step down at the end of the year.[40] In August 2021, however, it was reported that he did not plan to leave until the completion of the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery, Inc.[41]

WarnerMedia News & SportsEdit

In March 2019, CNN parent WarnerMedia announced a reorganization in which Zucker would become chairman of the company's news and sports division, overseeing Turner Sports, Bleacher Report and AT&T SportsNet, in addition to maintaining his role as head of CNN.[42]


In March 2019, the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) criticized Zucker and CNN for lack of diversity within the CNN ranks.[43]

Resignation from CNN and WarnerMediaEdit

On February 2, 2022, Zucker resigned from CNN. In his resignation letter, Zucker acknowledged that he did not disclose a consensual relationship he had with CNN's Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Allison Gollust, when it began.[44][45] The relationship was made public in early January 2022 during the network's investigation into Chris Cuomo.[46][47] Following his resignation from CNN, Zucker also resigned from his position as chief of WarnerMedia News & Sports.[48]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1996, Zucker married Caryn Stephanie Nathanson, then a supervisor for Saturday Night Live,[1] with whom he has four children; the two divorced in 2017.[49][50] Diagnosed at ages 31 and 34 with colon cancer, Zucker successfully underwent surgery twice and chemotherapy after the first surgery.[13][51] In July 2018, Zucker took a six-week leave of absence from CNN to recover from heart surgery.[52]


  1. ^ a b c "WEDDINGS;Jeffrey Zucker and Caryn Nathanson". The New York Times (New York ed.). June 2, 1996. p. 47. Retrieved June 4, 2009.
  2. ^ Rappaport, Jill (November 6, 2007). Mazel Tov: Celebrities' Bar and Bat Mitzvah Memories. Simon and Schuster. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-4165-5427-1.
  3. ^ Shapiro, Rebecca. "Jeff Zucker CNN President: Network Officially Hires Former NBC Universal Chief". HuffPost. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  4. ^ CNN: Jeff Zucker profile; accessed January 16, 2015
  5. ^ Stelter, Brian. "Jeff Zucker resigns from CNN". CNN. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  6. ^ Carter, Bill. "Zucker Announces Departure From NBC". NYT. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  7. ^ "Jeff Zucker Named Executive in Residence". Columbia Business School Newsroom. January 23, 2011. Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  8. ^ "Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish" By Abigail Pogrebi pg. 367|Zucker grew up in Miami where he was bar mitzvah and confirmed at Temple Israel - "the most Reform synagogue in South Florida." His family's weekly tradition was Hebrew school and football....He's currently a member of Temple Emanu-El in New York City.
  9. ^ Jewish Virtual Library: "Jeff Zucker" retrieved March 10, 2015
  10. ^ a b c "Pioneer Newsletter January/February 2005". The Greater North Miami Historical Society. January–February 2005. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  11. ^ a b Zhou, Li S. (May 25, 2011). "Jeff Zucker". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  12. ^ Farhi, Paul (April 9, 2013). "Jeff Zucker is remaking CNN. Are viewers tuning in?". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 28, 2014.
  13. ^ a b c Grove, Ronald (September 27, 2004). "Jeff Zucker: Life Without Friends". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  14. ^ Finke, Nikki. "NO JOKE: Jeff Zucker Had Conan Arrested –". Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  15. ^ "Jeff Zucker". CNN. January 3, 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  16. ^ "CEO of NBC Universal shares insights into his path to success". BizNews. January–February 2005. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  17. ^ Carter, Bill (December 3, 1991). "NBC Names Executive Producer of 'Today'". The New York Times. Retrieved May 6, 2010.
  18. ^ Fung, Katherine (May 10, 2013). "Jeff Zucker: 'New Day' Hosts Remind Me Of Winning Team At 'Today'". HuffPost. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  19. ^ Carter, Bill (December 25, 2000). "Network Heat Gets Even Hotter; At NBC, an Executive Moves From News to Entertainment". The New York Times. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  20. ^ "Jeff Zucker May Actually Be Crazy Enough To Save CNN". Bloomberg Businessweek. June 19, 2013. Retrieved January 14, 2015.
  21. ^ "Now Jeff Zucker Must Prove Himself Yet Again". Bloomberg Businessweek. February 19, 2007. Retrieved May 30, 2021.
  22. ^ Levine, Greg (December 15, 2005). "Zucker Named NBC CEO; CBS Tops Fox NFL Pre-Game". Forbes. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007.
  23. ^ James, Meg; Gold, Matea (January 9, 2010). "How Zucker's Leno quick fix got NBC into a quagmire". Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  24. ^ a b Dowd, Maureen (January 12, 2010). "The Biggest Loser". The New York Times. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  25. ^ Atkinson, Claire (June 2, 2010). "NBC boss eyes $30M+ exit deal from Comcast". New York Post. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
  26. ^ Alex Ben Block (January 23, 2012). "Katie Couric and Jeff Zucker: New Talk Show Isn't Regis or Oprah". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  27. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (June 3, 2011). "Katie Couric's New Talk Show Deal Likely to Be Announced Monday". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 4, 2011.
  28. ^ Nellie Andreeva (October 17, 2012). "Katie Couric's Syndicated Talk Show Seeks Executive Producer As Jeff Zucker Eyes Exit". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 28, 2012.
  29. ^ Gabriel Sherman (October 5, 2014). "Jeff Zucker Has Endured Cancer, Hollywood, and Being TV's Wunderkind. So Why Not Take on CNN?". NYMag. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  30. ^ Simpson, Connor (December 3, 2013). "Jeff Zucker Ushers CNN Into New 'Attitude' Era". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  31. ^ "CNN's Jeff Zucker Reveals Plans to Change from News Network into Place with 'Attitude'". December 3, 2013. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  32. ^ Flint, Joe (April 11, 2014). "CNN unveils new prime-time lineup, moves away from 9 p.m. talk". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  33. ^ "Jeff Zucker: News still first at CNN". September 24, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  34. ^ "Jeff Zucker Strikes Back: CNN Chief Takes on Critics of Original Series, News Facelift". The Wrap. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  35. ^ "CNN Shows Most Growth in Cable News". AdWeek. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  36. ^ "CNN lays off more than 40 journalists". The Guardian. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  37. ^ "How Jeff Zucker Is Seeking to Reshape CNN". The New York Times. October 3, 2014. Retrieved January 15, 2015.
  38. ^ Mahler, Jonathan (April 4, 2017). "CNN Had a Problem. Donald Trump Solved It". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 4, 2019.
  39. ^ "CNN Chief Jeff Zucker Unveils Plan to Dominate Digital". Hollywood Reporter. March 1, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  40. ^ Smith, Ben; Robertson, Katie. "Jeff Zucker, CNN's Longtime Leader, Says He Will Leave At Year's End". The New York Times. Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  41. ^ Sherman, Alex (August 4, 2021). "CNN president Jeff Zucker will stay at WarnerMedia at least until Discovery deal closes". CNBC. Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  42. ^ Hayes, Peter White, Dade; White, Peter; Hayes, Dade (March 4, 2019). "Bob Greenblatt Joins WarnerMedia, Jeff Zucker & Kevin Tsujihara Add To Roles As AT&T Reorganizes Leadership Team".
  43. ^ Levine, Jon (March 5, 2019). "National Association of Black Journalists Calls Out CNN Over Lack of Diversity". Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  44. ^ Flood, Brian (February 2, 2022). "Jeff Zucker exits CNN in wake of disastrous month that saw viewership drop 74 percent". Fox News. Archived from the original on February 2, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2022.
  45. ^ Grynbaum, Michael (February 2, 2022). "Jeff Zucker Exits CNN After Relationship With Senior Executive". The New York Times. Archived from the original on February 2, 2022. "As part of the investigation into Chris Cuomo’s tenure at CNN, I was asked about a consensual relationship with my closest colleague, someone I have worked with for more than 20 years," Mr. Zucker wrote. "I acknowledged the relationship evolved in recent years. I was required to disclose it when it began but I didn’t. I was wrong. As a result, I am resigning today,” he wrote. Mr. Zucker was referring to Allison Gollust, CNN’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer and one of the highest-ranking leaders of the network, who is closely involved in major business and communications decisions.
  46. ^ "CNN Bosses Jeff Zucker & Allison Gollust Left Their Marriages After Alleged Romantic Affair, 'Cozy Arrangement' Dragged Into Chris Cuomo Scandal". Radar Online. January 4, 2022. Retrieved February 3, 2022. It also calls into question the hypocrisy of Zucker and Gollust who initially stood by Cuomo when it emerged he rushed to the aid of his embattled brother, the former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
  47. ^ David, Folkenflik (February 2, 2022). "CNN president Jeff Zucker resigns over relationship with network executive". NPR. Archived from the original on February 3, 2022.
  48. ^ Katz, A.J. (February 2, 2022). "CNN Boss, WarnerMedia News and Sports Chief Jeff Zucker Resigns". Ad Week. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  49. ^ ‘Joined at the Hip’: Jeff Zucker’s Relationship With a Top CNN Executive. In: New York Times, 3 February 2022.
  50. ^ Carter, Bill (September 24, 2010). "NYT article, Zucker quote as saying he has 4 children. Retrieved Sep 25, 2010". Retrieved May 14, 2011.
  51. ^ Sherman, Gabriel (October 5, 2014). "Jeff Zucker Has Endured Cancer... Retrieved Sep 30, 2015". Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  52. ^ Steinberg, Brian (July 19, 2018). "CNN Chief Jeff Zucker to Take Leave for Heart Surgery". Variety. Retrieved August 22, 2021.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Business positions
Preceded by President of NBC Entertainment
Succeeded by
Preceded by
position created
President of NBC Universal Television Group
Succeeded by
position eliminated[1][better source needed]
Preceded by CEO of NBC
Succeeded by
Preceded by President of CNN Worldwide
Succeeded by
  1. ^ "NBC Universal Executive Bios". NBC Universal. July 5, 2007. Archived from the original on July 5, 2007.