CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker apparently didn’t hold back in a discussion with staffers that focused on speculation over Vice Media and its founder, Shane Smith.
As we reported Thursday, TVNewser was saying that Smith and Vice were considering a move to acquire HLN. The move would effectively turn the tables on CNN and HLN owner Time Warner, coming after talks broke down in which Time Warner was seeking to acquire a major stake in Vice.
Now TVNewser is reporting that Zucker had some choice words on the matter when he met with staffers later Thursday. HLN reportedly called an all-staff meeting in Atlanta to discuss the channel’s future in the wake of the report that Smith might be trying to acquire the faltering network, which he called “a distressed media asset.”
According to TVNewser, HLN’s economy and business reporter Jennifer Westhoven tweeted one of the meeting’s headlines: “ ‘HLN is not for sale’ — Jeff Zucker.”
The TVNewser article notes that Zucker also had some stronger words, quoting a CNN Commentary posting that says: “Zucker acknowledged the Vice and Shane Smith controversy with HLN, by saying, ‘he’ (Shane Smith) was an ‘asshole.’ Our source tells us Zucker then said, ‘leak that!’ or ‘you can leak that!’”
The meeting was reportedly fronted by HLN boss Albie Hecht, with Zucker fielding questions from network staff for about 45 minutes.