He has not been hiding away, though. He and Ms. Gollust traveled to Las Vegas to see a Taylor Swift concert, and last month he attended the Sports Emmy Awards at the invitation of Bryant Gumbel, along with the former “Today” anchor Matt Lauer. His new office in Manhattan — where a life-size statue of the Incredible Hulk looms in the entryway — is just blocks from CNN’s former New York headquarters in Columbus Circle.
And he is trying to get his next act off the ground, starting a new venture called RedBird IMI with $1 billion to spend on acquisitions in the digital media, sports, entertainment and news industries.
This article on Mr. Zucker is based on interviews with more than four dozen of his associates in the media industry who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid jeopardizing their relationship with him. He declined to comment, but through a spokeswoman described his attitude toward CNN.
“It is wholly unsurprising that Jeff Zucker, the architect of CNN’s unprecedented success, would have deep misgivings about the direction the network has taken since he left,” said Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Mr. Zucker. She added that it was also no surprise “that he gets asked a lot, publicly and privately, and regularly from former colleagues, about what he thinks of CNN now.”
Months after he left CNN in February 2022, Mr. Zucker met with his successor, Mr. Licht. The organizers of that meeting — industry confederates who know both men — hoped that a lunch at Mr. Zucker’s house on Amagansett’s tony Hedges Lane would clear the air.
Mr. Zucker had been privately critical of Mr. Licht’s leadership of CNN, according to people who have spoken with him, and the two men hadn’t met since Mr. Zucker was pushed out.
The get-together didn’t kindle much bonhomie between the media executives, who had been friendly in the clubby world of TV news. Mr. Licht was seeking a rapprochement. Mr. Zucker was asked to give advice. But afterward, the former CNN president griped that Mr. Licht didn’t take any of his pointers, said a person familiar with his feelings following the meal.