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CNN Chief Promises To Hold Trump's "Feet To The Fire"

"We will hold the new administration's feet to the fire, and they should respect that even if they don't welcome it," Jeff Zucker said.

Posted on November 22, 2016, at 9:43 p.m. ET

Zucker on press pool. "This is not about access for the press itself. It is about access for all Americans." #cpj

CNN President Jeff Zucker, speaking Tuesday night at the Committee to Protect Journalists dinner in New York, encouraged members of the media to remember their primary role: bringing accountability to government.

Though Zucker said he believed it was too early to judge how President-elect Donald Trump's administration would behave toward journalists, his promises during the campaign had raised some concerns.

"We must all remember that the primary responsibility of the media is accountability of government," Zucker said. "We will hold the new administration's feet to the fire, and they should respect that even if they don't welcome it."

The comments drew some laughs in the crowd. Earlier this year, CNN hired Trump's former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as a commentator while Lewandowski remained on the Trump payroll. Lewandowski later resigned from network after Trump's victory, and is now again an adviser to the president-elect.

Jeff Zucker arrives to meet with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower on Monday.
Brendan Mcdermid / Reuters

Jeff Zucker arrives to meet with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower on Monday.

Zucker added his concerns about Trump's relationship with the media were raised in an off-the-record meeting that took place between the president-elect and a number of high-profile members of the media earlier this week. Zucker said he believed that Trump would fall in line with the longstanding use of a press pool that follows the president.

"As the new leader of the free world, we expect that he will protect longstanding traditions," Zucker said.

Zucker also praised Vice President-elect Mike Pence's prior support of a free press. As a US representative in 2011, Pence co-sponsored a bill that would have protected journalists against revealing confidential sources in court. The bill did not pass.

"We hope that his support carries through to the incoming administration," Zucker said.

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