Published On: Thu, Feb 19th, 2015

Did CNN’s Jeff Zucker Cross a Line Hosting the Obamas for Dinner?

The line between journalists and the politicians who they report on has always been a thin one.

Jeff Zucker

CNN boss Jeff Zucker is under fire for his perceived support of the President Obama. This is because Zucker hosted the Obamas for a dinner in his home.

The line between journalists and the politicians who they report on has always been a thin one. Reporters have traditionally socialized with the Washington elite. Former Washington Post publisher Kathryn Graham, for example, was known to host presidents and Senators from both parties at her home for social events.

Politicians and reporters are known for rubbing elbows in bars and weddings. They need to develop personal relationships in order to get information flowing in both directions.

But is hosting the President of the United States and the First Lady in your home going too far? Apparently Zucker does not think so.

“During a CNN internal town hall Tuesday, network chief Jeff Zucker said it’s not a conflict of interest for an executive of the network to host the president and First Lady in their home, ” an insider familiar with the event told TheWrap.com.

“Zucker said no [it’s not a conflict] because he goes to cocktail parties all the time with different parents of his children’s friends, ” the insider told TheWrap. “The dinner was for parents and kids from Sidwell Friends School [in D.C.], where President Obama sends his kids to school, ” adding that it wasn’t a private dinner for the Obamas.

But perhaps Zucker should not be taking any chances considering the poor state of CNN these days. The man who presided over the fall of NBC after Friends finally left the air has seen CNN make a comeback of sorts, leaping as much as 60% in the ratings in certain demographics. But the network is still way behind the leading Fox News.

“Everyone said we were getting out of news, ” Zucker told TheWrap in an exclusive interview. “We doubled down on news.”

“I think we’ve reconfirmed that CNN stands for news, and our commitment to covering news on a global scale is clear, ” Zucker added. “ And there’s been a tremendous amount of news — especially international news — and we’ve committed to covering that. Covering news coupled with the original series strategy has given us a very firm footing.”

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