BACK TO THE ‘HEARTLAND’
Why Is John Kasich Meeting With Top Cable-News Executives?
Kasich recently met with MSNBC’s chief, and happened to bump into a top TV agent before a meeting with CNN’s president. Could the governor be eyeing a return to cable news?
Ohio Gov. John Kasich has strongly suggested that he may run for president again in 2020 against President Trump.
But if he doesn’t, Kasich appears to be working his relationships with top cable-news executives for a possible post-government career in television.
Two sources with direct knowledge of the meetings told The Daily Beast that, in the past few weeks, Kasich met with CNN chief Jeff Zucker at the network’s New York City headquarters.
During the Republican governor’s visit, Jay Sures, the co-president of United Talent Agency, also showed up.
CNN isn’t the only network Kasich has recently visited.
According to sources, Kasich has similarly met with MSNBC chief Phil Griffin multiple times, and there’s interest in bringing him onto the network if he decides to forgo an anti-Trump run in 2020.
Both CNN and MSNBC declined to comment for this story.
If Kasich were to secure a contract with either network, it wouldn’t be the first time he worked in cable news. From 2001 until 2007, the Republican lawmaker hosted a weekly Fox News program titled Heartland with John Kasich. During that time, he also often filled in as guest host for Bill O’Reilly’s The O’Reilly Factor.
It’s unclear whether Kasich is, indeed, seeking a new television contract. Cable-news executives regularly hold meetings with top politicians, and Kasich has openly suggested he may mount a second bid for the White House.
A Kasich official confirmed to The Daily Beast that Kasich met with Griffin and Zucker, but denied that any agents were present.
But the repeated meetings with Griffin and the presence of Sures at CNN raises the possibility that the Ohio governor could be exploring other post-gubernatorial career options. Since purchasing the Bienstock agency in 2015, UTA has become one of the biggest representatives for television news anchors and personalities.
In response to a question about the meeting from The Daily Beast, Sures said he was not present at Zucker’s meeting with the governor, but that he “ran into Kasich” while visiting the building. He would not answer whether he officially represents the governor.
“I am a friend of his,” Sures said in an email.
This also wouldn’t be the first time that Sures has helped steer a potential 2020 candidate toward a stable cable-news gig.
The New York Times reported earlier this year that Sures had pitched CNN and MSNBC on a television show starring short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci and attorney Michael Avenatti, who has said he is considering running for president in 2020 as a Democrat.
Kasich wouldn’t be the first potential 2020 Republican primary candidate to consider going the cable-news route after leaving office. Earlier this year, The Daily Beast reported that Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake met with both Zucker and Griffin about a potential cable news gig.
—Sam Stein contributed reporting.