CNN’s president Jeff Zucker on Thursday made an overtly sexual joke about one of the network’s most prominent anchors while receiving an award for leadership. During his speech at the Mirror Awards in New York, Zucker joked about sleeping with New Day anchor Alisyn Camerota, who was emceeing the event.
“I was gonna say that I love waking up with you every morning, but I want to say that I love waking up to you every morning,” he said, according to The Hollywood Reporter’s Jeremy Barr, who noted that many in the crowd audibly groaned at the remark.
The comments were quickly criticized as being tone-deaf, as many journalists pointed out that Camerota has spoken at length about being sexually harassed by her old boss, former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. Further, others noted that Zucker’s comments came just minutes after investigative reporter Ronan Farrow won an award for his reporting on sexual harassment by another network head, former CBS chairman Les Moonves.
“It’s the oldest joke in the book made to morning show anchors, both men and women,” Camerota said in a statement to The Daily Beast. “I hear it a couple of times a week from people in the grocery store. That isn’t harassment, in my opinion, and I didn’t find it tone deaf, either.”