When AT&T moved to purchase CNN’s guardian firm, Time Warner, in 2016, Mr. Trump started attacking his previous pal. He did it in public, on Twitter. He additionally raised Mr. Zucker in a personal assembly with AT&T’s then-C.E.O., Randall Stephenson, in early 2017, a remark that hasn’t been beforehand reported.The president’s marketing campaign in opposition to Mr. Zucker was interpreted — fairly — by Mr. Zucker as an try and get him fired as a situation of the merger, in accordance with three individuals who spoke to AT&T and Time Warner executives on the time. However Time Warner stood by him, and Mr. Trump’s Justice Division sued to cease the merger. When Mr. Stephenson lastly took management of the corporate in 2018, he didn’t hearth the CNN president.Mr. Mahler’s piece famous that CNN had change into extra centered on American politics, ”an endless loop of dramatic moments, conflicts and confrontations” — in different phrases, it had change into Trumpier. He additionally famous Mr. Zucker’s “strange symbiosis” with Mr. Trump. However that summer time, CNN fired Jeffrey Lord, a genial, silver-haired former aide to Ronald Reagan who had been Mr. Trump’s most stalwart defender on the community.And by the top of that yr, the lure of scores pulled the community in a brand new route: resistance. Mr. Trump’s personal political theater featured common televised confrontations with CNN’s White Home correspondent, Jim Acosta, a distinct type of win-win. But when Mr. Trump and Mr. Zucker generally nonetheless gave the impression to be winking, their audiences aren’t in on the joke, and the lethal critical stakes grew to become clear when a deranged Trump supporter mailed a bomb to CNN’s New York headquarters in October 2018.Mr. Zucker didn’t reply by means of a spokeswoman once I requested once more, 5 years later, whether or not he now regrets his position in Mr. Trump’s profession.However this run, too, may be coming to an finish. After I spoke to former NBC colleagues of Mr. Zucker about his tenure there, the present they introduced up most frequently wasn’t “The Apprentice”; it was “Fear Factor,” during which contestants have been tossed of their underwear right into a pit stuffed with rats, amongst different grotesque stunts. USA At this time described it as maybe “the most vile program ever to air on a major network.”“Fear Factor” didn’t age properly. The present lasted six seasons, and a revival was minimize brief by public backlash to a stunt during which competing units of equivalent twins drank donkey semen. The general public bought uninterested in it (and that donkey stunt didn’t air).