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Discovery CEO David Zaslav Reportedly Criticizes Fox Anchor At Cable Industry Conference


Yesterday, the annual cable confab known as NCTA kicked off in Chicago with a keynote address by newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel to a packed house of cable executives. This was followed by Discovery President & CEO David Zaslav introducing the conference's opening session with industry titans such as Time Warner's Jeff Bewkes, News Corp's Chase Carey, Viacom's Philippe Dauman, Time Warner Cable's Glenn Britt, Cox's Patrick Esser and Comcast's Neil Smit, moderated by Fox Business Network's Liz Claman.

However, Benzinga hears the green room backstage of this must-attend session is where an alleged controversy took place. Two industry insiders who were situated in the green room reported to Benzinga that Zaslav gossiped with one of his representatives, David Leavy, about the panel, and more directly about panel host Liz Claman. Zaslav was apparently saying things like:

“She's running out of material and repeating questions”

“This is the most uninteresting panel today”

In addition to other critical comments, the sources also said that Zaslov asked whether there could be someone on the side of the stage to feed Claman questions.

The insiders said everyone in the green room – a group made up of about 15 executives and representatives – were surprised at Zaslav's comments and one executive thought maybe it was jealousy over the fact that Zaslav was only asked to introduce the panel and not participate alongside the industry leaders.

We reached out to Zaslav for a comment, and his rep Leavy responded saying that “Liz and David have been friends for years. This never happened. If anything, we raised eyebrows at Liz's comparison of mortgage backed securities to toxic assets." Ostensibly, Leavy and Zaslav did not believe that Claman's comparison was valid. Readers can come to their own conclusions as to the veracity of those criticisms...but apparently Zaslav thought Liz's financial knowledge was good enough for him to show up a few hours later on Fox Business Network to talk with Liz about the OWN Network.

If the allegations are indeed accurate, clearly someone of Zaslav's status should know better than to openly criticize a respected business news anchor in a room full of industry insiders – especially since he was there, in Oprah's backyard no less, to promote the female-focused OWN.


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