Jeff Zucker is considering the addition of a beloved Fox News host to the line-up at CNN.
The CNN president said on Friday that he would be interested in nmeet with Shepard Smith, who exited Fox News earlier this month.
‘I think Shep’s a great journalist, I understand he’s not able to take any jobs for the foreseeable future,’ said Zucker while appearing at CNN’s Citizen conference in New York.
‘When he’s available, he is somebody who is very talented and I would be very open to talking to him.’
Zucker later described Smith as ‘a truth-teller who set out to hold people in power accountable’ while labeling Fox News as ‘state TV.
He also said Fox News was ‘not a place where somebody like Shep Smith could work.’
Team Shep: Jeff Zucker (above) appeared at CNN’s Citizen Conference in New York on Thursday and was asked if he would hire Shepard Smith
Shep out: He also said that Smith (above) is a ‘truth-teller’ and a ‘great journalist,’ while calling Fox News ‘state TV’
‘I think it’s morphed into conspiracy TV,’ said Zucker of Fox News at one point.
‘I don’t think it’s a journalistic organization.’
He then took his comments one strep further, stating: ‘I think it’s doing a disservice to the country. But that’s the path that the Murdochs have decided to go down.’
Zucker also discussed recent efforts to add more conservative pundits to the network line-up.
‘There’s a lot of emotion around this president and his presidency,’ explained Zucker.
‘There are folks out there who are never going to be comfortable with anything the president says, anyone who defends the president.’
He went on to state: ‘It’s my view that if we don’t hear from people who support the president, either in his administration or Capitol Hill or outside the administration, if we don’t pay attention to those people and what they’re saying and and what they’re representing … I think what happens is we wake up the day after the election, and half the country is surprised that President Trump is president of the United States.’
Smith did his best to avoid the trappings of punditry on his news program, which may have played a role in his decision to leave Fox News.
The decision to exit Fox News was made by Smith, and only Smith, publicists for both the anchor and the network said on Friday.
But the move did come two weeks after Smith was openly mocked by Tucker Carlson for calling a attack on one their colleagues ‘repugnant.’
The midday news anchor, who had been with the network since it launched in 1996, shared the news in the final 10 minutes of his last show, and said that he would be enjoying an extended break before returning to the airwaves.
Smith did not say how long that break would be at the time.
Multiple sources told DailyMail.com that Smith’s departure came as a total shock to most at the network.
Smith had just signed a multiyear contract 18 months ago, and at the time said he was ‘extremely thankful for the opportunity to continue to lead our breaking news coverage for years to come.’
Rupert Murdoch said at the time: ‘Shepard Smith is an exemplary journalist whose skill in anchoring breaking news is unrivaled. His powerful storytelling on both television and digital platforms has elevated our entire news gathering process.’
Sources also said that Smith was escorted out after his final appearance, but it was unclear if that was at the request of the network or for his benefit should there be photographers waiting outside the building.
A spokesperson later told DailyMail.com that it was in fact Smith’s own security detail who walked him out of the building.
Looking forward: ‘When he’s available, he is somebody who is very talented and I would be very open to talking to him,’ said Zucker (above with Brian Stelter)
His partner Giovanni Graziano, who was a production assistant on Smith’s show for just over a year before moving over to Varney & Co. on the Fox Business Network in 2012, also deleted his Linked In profile.
‘Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave FOX News and begin a new chapter. After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged,’ said Smith.
‘The opportunities afforded this guy from small town Mississippi have been many. It’s been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor.’
He continued: ‘I’ve worked with the most talented, dedicated and focused professionals I know and I’m proud to have anchored their work each day — I will deeply miss them.’
Smith also made it clear that he will be off he air for at least some time.
‘Under our agreement I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future, but I will be able to see more of [my partner] Gio and [our dog] Lucia and our friends and family and then we will see what comes along,’ said Smith.
‘This is my last newscast here. Thank you for watching today and over the decades.’
He then closed out his final newscast by stating: ‘It’s been an honor and my pleasure.’