CNN’s Jeff Zucker: MSNBC’s Anchor Controversies ‘Affect the Brand over Time’

CNN president Jeff Zucker’s comments at last week’s Television Critics Association event mostly focused on Fox News and its chairman Roger Ailes. But in an interview with TV Guide following that appearance, Zucker also shared his thoughts on CNN’s more direct competitor MSNBC.

Asked if recent controversies surrounding MSNBC anchors like Martin Bashir, who was forced to resign after making some nasty comments about Sarah Palin, and Melissa Harris-Perry, who offered a tearful apology for joking about Mitt Romney’s black grandson, have “hurt them and helped you,” Zucker offered a cautiously affirmative response.

“I think all of those things combined affect the brand over time and the cumulative effect takes its toll,” Zucker answered.

RELATED: Phil Griffin Defends Harris-Perry and Bashir Apologies, but Won’t Let Them ‘Define’ MSNBC

He also acknowledged that the ratings turnaround he hoped to bring to CNN “will take years,” but took solace in the fact that CNN was able to pull ahead of MSNBC in total day ratings in 2013.

As for the prime time shakeup Zucker has promised for 2014, he does not appear to be in a big hurry. “We don’t have to do anything,” he said. “When we find good and smart on-brand programming that’s ready to go we’ll look for a place for it. We’re not under any pressure.”

[photos via screengrab, CNN]

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