CNN President Jeff Zucker once organized a breakfast meeting between Democratic presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and influential New York City power brokers.
The revelation, which was first reported by India Abroad, comes as CNN prepares to host two Democratic primary debates on Tuesday and Wednesday in Detroit. Harris will participate in Wednesday’s show.
Zucker brokered the meeting in 2009 — when he was president of NBC Universal — during Harris’ campaign to become California attorney general, McClatchy reported.
“Kamala is not just important for the city of San Francisco, the state of California, but for the entire country,” Zucker told guests at the August 2009 breakfast meeting at NBC’s Manhattan offices.
In promoting Harris, who is now a U.S. senator, Zucker admitted he was breaking his personal policy of not interceding on behalf of politicians.
“This is in fact, the first time I’ve ever done one of these, and that’s because I have a very, very strict policy because of my job. I’ve taken a position that I completely stay out of supporting candidates of any party and try to stay out of politics entirely,” Zucker told guests, according to McClatchy.
Zucker reportedly also pointed guests to a New York Times article that declared Harris as one of 17 women who are most likely to become the first female president.
How did CNN respond?
The news outlet downplayed the relationship between Zucker and Harris in an email to McClatchy.
“Jeff hosted a small breakfast in New York for Kamala Harris when she was the District Attorney of San Francisco. He was then CEO of NBC Universal, and was introducing the DA to some of his colleagues in an informal setting,” CNN spokeswoman Allison Gollust said.
“He has seen her a handful of times in the last 10 years, all in his capacity as a journalist. His relationship with the senator is no different than any other national politician, and he has never endorsed her, or anyone, in any capacity,” she explained.