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Zucker: ‘The Guy Who Plucked The Peacock’

LA Times unloads on NBC chief Jeff Zucker in a blistering analysis of his reign. Is a media pile-on about to begin?

 On Thursday night, TheWrap posted a picture of NBC U chief Jeff Zucker with the word "fail" stamped across it. Today, the Los Angeles Times expanded on that notion.

In a scathing j’accuse normally reserved for failed presidential candidates and leaders of the U.S. auto business, Times reporters Meg James and Matea Gold declared that Zucker’s tenure had led to "a spectacular fall by the country’s premier television network" and dubbed the Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien flip-flop "one of the biggest debacles in television history." 

"Instead of the mogul with moxie who transformed television — he called for ‘a re-engineering of our businesses from top to bottom’ — Zucker might better be remembered as the guy who plucked the peacock," the Times wrote.

The article also brought to the surface a number of oft-heard (and sometimes reported) complaints about Zucker’s management style, including his executive ADD ("master of the quick fix")  and his Reaganesque Teflon status within NBC owner GE.

It also continued this week’s game of Analyst Overhype, in which media observers have fallen all over each other to come up with the harshest assesment possible of the Leno-O’Brien debacle. Today’s contestant: Jeffrey Cole of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

"Everything about this decision seems to have been a disaster," he told the paper. "It looks like NBC shot itself in the foot, the arm, the neck — and everywhere else."

Despite the litany of complaints against Zucker, GE recently signed Zucker to a new multiyear deal. Rival network executives and other industry insiders have dismissed that contract’s long-term value, at least in terms of Zucker’s viability at NBC, with many insisting new potential owner Comcast will seek to replace Zucker once its purchase is complete.

Read the full LA Times story here.