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CNN’s Jeff Zucker Praises Shep Smith, Torches Fox News: ‘I Don’t Think It’s a Journalistic Organization’

CNN president Jeff Zucker took a torch to Fox News on Thursday, arguing the network is not a news organization and is “doing a disservice to the country.”

Speaking with CNN host Brian Stelter at the network’s day-long CITIZEN forum, Zucker first referred to former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith as a “great journalist” and “immense talent.”

“When he’s available, he is somebody who I think is incredibly talented and I would be very open to talking to him,” Zucker said.

When pressed for his thoughts on what Smith’s departure means for Fox News, the CNN chief said he “was not that surprised.”

“I think it had become untenable for somebody there who was a truth teller,” Zucker said. “And who set out on a regular basis to hold those in power accountable. That is not something that organization does. That is not something that is in full force there. It’s not even in half force.”

“They say they have dozens of great journalists,” Stelter noted.

“You repeat that line a lot and I think it’s one of the mistakes you make in your journalism,” Zucker replied, prompting a laugh from the audience. “Are there a handful of really good journalists in that organization? Sure. Is there one or two really good anchors in that organization? Sure. But that doesn’t make it a news organization, and it doesn’t make it a journalistic enterprise.”

“What is it then?” Stelter asked.

“It’s akin to state run TV. I think it’s morphed into conspiracy TV. And it’s not a place where Shep Smith could work,” Zucker said. “I don’t think it’s a journalistic organization,” he added, arguing “there is no difference” between the news and opinion sides at Fox — calling Stelter’s idea that there is a separation “completely erroneous.”

“It’s doing a disservice to the country,” Zucker said, accusing the Murdochs of being “responsible for a lot of the problems in this country for having instituted a lot of the conspiracies in this country.”

Watch above, via CNN CITIZEN.

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: [email protected] Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin