03/25/2013 09:08 am ET

Phil Griffin On Jeff Zucker: 'I Kicked CNN's Ass Without [Him]. Now I Gotta Kick His Ass, Too.'

As Jeff Zucker works to rebuild the original 24-hour cable news network, his MSNBC rival does not seem particularly worried.

In the latest issue of The New Republic, contributor Rebecca Dana interviewed MSNBC president Phil Griffin on the cable network he runs and his plans for its future. Griffin turned the cable network into a solid leader over CNN, but the ratings-deprived network has a new chief who is looking to shake things up.

Griffin worked with Zucker while he was at NBC. Griffin described them first as equals, but "then Jeff just soared." Zucker became the executive producer of "Today" and transformed NBC's morning show into the number one program in morning television, securing its place at the top for 16 years. As Zucker ascended the NBC ladder, he promoted Griffin as well, making him president of MSNBC in 2008.

When asked about the presence of his former boss as his direct competitor, Griffin seemed less than threatened.

"All I know is I kicked CNN’s ass without Jeff Zucker. Now I gotta kick his ass, too," he told Dana.

Among other programming blocks, Zucker seems focused on relaunching CNN's morning show. He recently replaced Soledad O'Brien with a show hosted byChris Cuomo, but has not yet named a female co-anchor.

Rumors surfaced that Zucker had his eye on MSNBC's Tamron Hall, the hard news anchor who hosts "News Nation" in the middle of MSNBC's dayside programming. She is also a frequent guest host on "Today." Zucker is also reportedly interested in former CNBC host Erin Burnett, who currently hosts a primetime show on CNN.



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