Gerry Cardinale

Jeff Zucker is not shopping for CNN, according to one of the backing partners of his new media venture.

Gerry Cardinale, the private equity player and founder of RedBird Capital, partnered with International Media Investments last year to launch a $1 billion media acquisitions engine run by Zucker. Reports were rampant in June that Zucker was looking to take CNN off the hands of Warner Bros. Discovery, after running the news network for decades before resigning in 2022 over a consensual workplace affair.

“No,” Cardinale said on Thursday when asked if he and Zucker were looking to buy CNN, speaking on stage at the Variety and Sportico Sports and Entertainment Summit in West Hollywood. “I would not have the longevity that I’ve had if I ran my business running around town talking about deals in a way that’s, frankly, disrespectful to David Zaslav. I’m kind of amused and irritated by it.”

When asked further if Zucker was pursuing CNN with or without the backing of the new venture, called RedBird IIMI, Cardinale said, “there is no with or without me.”

Not that Cardinale doesn’t see the appeal of the comeback story the reports represented. The New York Post said last month that Zucker was looking to make a significant financial bid for CNN this fall, touting its value in the upcoming 2024 presidential election.

“Is it a great Hollywood story that Jeff Zucker comes back with a billion dollars and buys CNN? Yes. I can see the telenovela of that, but its not the way we operate,” he said. “Last time I checked it’s not for sale, and a company like that, if they do want to monetize an asset like that, it would be in a competitive process. I don’t participate in competitive processes. It’s much ado about nothing.”

Cardinale also addressed reports of talks for fledgling media platforms, like the newsletter-based Puck and Ben Smith’s Semafor. While he expressed respect for the operations, he said RedBird IMI has no intention of acquiring such a property at this time.

The executive, who also serves as RedBird’s Chief Investment Officer and managing partner, has made numerous high-profile investments of late, including in LeBron James’ content company SpringHill. He recently formed a dedicated sports content label at David Ellison’s Skydance, and is a founding partner in Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s Artists Equity.

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