Billionaire John Catsimatidis teased that he aims to buy CNN from its corporate parent, Warner Bros. Discovery — and told The Post he’d “go run the place tomorrow morning and all I’d want is $1 per year.”
The New York supermarket mogul first said he’d bid on the beleaguered network during a Thursday morning appearance on 77 WABC’s “Sid & Friends in the Morning.”
In a subsequent interview with The Post, however, 74-year-old Catsimatidis wasn’t ready to share details, including how much he’d be willing to pony up.
“It’s up to the investment bankers to come up with the numbers,” Catsimatidis said, although he also signaled that he didn’t believe financing a bid would be a problem.
“We could always bring partners in, but I want to run the place,” he said. “We are capable of putting down a substantial amount of money.”
“I’d go run the place tomorrow morning, and all I’d want is $1 per year and a piece of the upside,” Catsimatidis said, claiming he could “double the profits” in a short amount of time.
Catsimatidis, who boasts a net worth of $4.1 billion, pointed to 77 WABC shooting up to No. 1 in Nielsen’s rated talk radio ratings under his rule as proof that he could bolster CNN’s rank. (77 WABC took first place in October 2021, but sits in the No. 11 spot as of April.)
“Whoever is running that company is wrong,” Catsimatidis said, citing CEO Chris Licht’s resignation as a poor move considering the embattled leader helmed the presidential town hall with Donald Trump, which brought in more viewers than the network had seen in more than two years.
“If the network is getting half-a-million [viewers] a night and they have Trump on and they get 3 million [viewers], to fire the CEO for getting that many people…” Catsimatidis said.
Catsimatidis also assured in an interview with The Post that under him, CNN would be nothing like it was under Jeff Zucker, who was very publicly anti-Trump and was booted out of the network in early 2022 for failing to disclose his relationship with a subordinate.
He said that if he were to take over, CNN would continue to make moves towards becoming more bipartisan, as it did under Licht.
“I want the truth, not opinions,” Catsimatidis emphasized. “If people say there’s two truths, let’s voice both truths and let the viewers decide.”
The purchase would add cable television to Catsimatidis’ portfolio, which consists of Manhattan grocery chain Gristedes, real estate and aviation company Red Apple Group and 77 WABC radio, which the mogul bought in a $12.5 million cash deal in 2019.
Catsimatidis said “CNN deserves to be No. 1 in the world right now,” and said “Ted Turner created a wonderful network” that he suggested has fallen short of its founder’s vision under Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav.
And though Licht’s moves to do just that rendered him jobless, Catsimatidis believes he could more successfully “fix” CNN while maintaining a neutral political stance.
“He at least tried to do the right thing,” Catsimatidis added of Licht, who resigned from the network after a tumultuous 13-month stint on Wednesday during which he fired several prominent on-air personalities, green-lighted the train-wreck town hall with Trump and saw CNN’s highly publicized streaming service snuffed out.
Licht’s shoddy moves as head honcho were detailed in a damning report in The Atlantic, which was ultimately the nail in his coffin.
“Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we had hoped — and ultimately that’s on me,” Zaslav said while addressing CNN staffers during a morning editorial meeting on Wednesday.
“We’re in the process of conducting a wide search, internally and externally, for a new leader,” Zaslav added.
During the interim, three CNN executives — talent boss Amy Entelis, editorial head Virginia Moseley and programming chief Eric Sherling — will form an “acting leadership team” while Zaslav takes his time filling the chief executive role.