Jeff Zucker Fires Back at Donald Trump: CNN Doesn’t Pay Candidates to Debate

Network president also defends coverage of GOP frontrunner: “It’s our role to report what he does”

Donald Trump and Jeff Zucker
Getty Images/CNN

Jeff Zucker responded on Thursday to Donald Trump’s demand he be paid $5 million to appear in CNN’s GOP debate on Dec. 15.

“We do not pay candidate to appear at debates,” Zucker said at a breakfast event on Thursday in New York City.

The network chief also defended CNN’s coverage of the real estate mogul, which TheWrap reported his own staff finds obsessive.

“I don’t think it’s our role to take a point of view,” Zucker said to BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith.

“It’s our role to report what he does. It’s not our role to build up a campaign or take down a campaign. It’s our role to be skeptical.”

When Smith said Trump’s running a “demagogic” campaign, Zucker responded, “that’s your opinion.”