CNN exec Jeff Zucker reveals whether he'd consider hiring Shep Smith

He called Fox News home for more than two decades, but should he so choose, Shep Smith could potentially set up shop inside CNN.

Jeff Zucker revealed this week that he'd welcome the opportunity woo Smith: "I think Shep's a great journalist," he said at Citizen by CNN. "When he's available, he is somebody who is very talented, and I would be very open to talking to him."

Zucker also said bluntly that Smith's truthfulness and ethical reporting didn't belong on Fox News, calling it "akin to state-run TV."

When announcing his unexpected exit, Smith made it clear that his contract with the network had not yet expired, thus rendering him ineligible to work elsewhere — for the time being. Neither he nor Fox has specified the details of that timeline.

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Shepard Smith through the years
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Shepard Smith through the years
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 248 -- Pictured: (l-r) Fox New�s Shepard Smith during an interview with host Seth Meyers on August 17, 2015 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guest Shepard Smith during Friday's 12/16/16 show in New York.

(Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images)

LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 248

Pictured: (l-r) Fox News Shepard Smith during an interview with host Seth Meyers on August 17, 2015

(Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Shepard Smith attends the 19th Annual National Lesbian And Gay Journalists Association New York Benefit at The Prince George Ballroom on March 20, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Shepard Smith attends the 19th Annual National Lesbian And Gay Journalists Association New York Benefit at The Prince George Ballroom on March 20, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)

Shepard Smith attends salute to Brit Hume at Cafe Milano on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Paul Morigi/WireImage)

Fox News anchor, Shepard Smith on the set of 'Studio B with Shepard Smith' during a rehersal at Fox News studios in New York. Fox News Channel celebrated its 15th anniversary on the air on October 7th.

(The Washington Post via Getty Images)

THE VIEW

Shepard Smith was a guest on 'THE VIEW,' THURSDAY, NOV. 5, 2009 

(Photo by Steve Fenn/ABC via Getty Images) SHEPARD SMITH

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith on the set of 'Studio B with Shepard Smith' at Fox News studios in New York. Fox News Channel celebrated its 15th anniversary on the air on October 7th.

(The Washington Post via Getty Images)

FOX News Correspondent Shepard Smith attends the Fox News Channel 10th Anniversary celebration on October 4, 2006 in New York City.

(Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

Harvey Weinstein, John Antioco, Chairman/CEO of Blockbuster Video, Joshua Jackson, Emilio Estevez, Sharon Stone, Christian Slater, Mathew Smith, General Merchandise Manager of Blockbuster video, Nick Shepard, President of Blockbuster Video, Freddy Rodriguez, Bob Weinstein, Trevor Drinkwater, Steve Bannon and Larry Madden, CFO of The Weinstein Company. 

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for The Weinstein Company)

Chairman & CEO, FOX News Roger Ailes (R) and (via satellite from Kiryat Shmona, Israel) anchor Shepard Smith from 'Fox News' speak during the 2006 Summer Television Critics Association Press Tour for the FOX Broadcasting Company at the Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel on July 24, 2006 in Pasadena, California.

(Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

Shepard Smith and Rick Leventhal, news anchors for FOXNews.

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Jane Skinner and Shepard Smith during Fox at NCTA - FX, Fuel TV and Fox Reality - April 10, 2006 in Atlanta, GA, United States.

(Photo by Moses Robinson/WireImage for Fox Television Network)

The Pulse correspondents, Bill O'Reilly and Laurie Dhue with 'The Pulse' host, Shepard Smith at the FOX 2002 Summer TCA Tour, held at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Los Angeles, CA, January 22, 2002.

(photo by Kevin Winter/ImageDirect).

Shepard Smith during 2002 Fox Summer TCA Party at Sky Bar at The Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, California, United States.

(Photo by Jon Kopaloff/WireImage)

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"Under our agreement, I won’t be reporting elsewhere, at least in the near future," Smith said during his farewell broadcast on Oct. 11, adding that he looked forward to spending more time with his partner and their dog. "Then, we'll see what comes along."

Smith joined Fox News in its inception in 1996. On a network known for leaning conservative, Smith is widely recognized as a nonpartisan newsman. Historically, but perhaps more notably in recent years, he's stood his ground even against his own colleagues, frequently countering other pundits' opinions with more thorough research.

Among the colleagues with whom Smith has sparred is Sean Hannity, who always passionately defends conservative talking points, particularly in regards to President Trump. Smith has said that Hannity's show is designed to entertain, not report the news, saying in 2018, "I wouldn't work there."

28 PHOTOS
CNN's Jeff Zucker through the years
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CNN's Jeff Zucker through the years
Jeff Zucker (C) president of NBC entertainment, shares a laugh with Dick Wolf, (L) creator and producer of the the "Law and Order" shows and Tom Cavanaugh star of the show "Ed" as they arrive at an event in New York City, May 13, 2002. The three were attending NBC's preview of new and returning shows for next falls primetime schedule. Picture taken May 13. REUTERS/Jeff Christensen JC
-UNDATED PHOTO- NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker is seen in this undated photograph. (CREDIT : REUTERS/Chris Haston/NBC/Handout)
Members of the cast of the NBC comedy television series "Will and Grace" and NBC executives appear on the bell balcony overlooking the main trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange, May 18, 2006. From left to right are, NBC Universal Television Group President Angela Bromstad, NYSE CEO John Thain, NBC Universal Television Group CEO Jeff Zucker, actors Sean Hayes, Debra Messing and Eric McCormack. The cast was celebrating the series' final episode which airs May 18. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Ron Meyer, president and COO of Universal Studios, poses with Jeff Zucker (R), president and CEO of NBC Universal, prior to a discussion on sustainability and the role of energy policy during GE's Ecomagination media day at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California, May 24, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)
Jeff Zucker, president and the Chief Executive of NBC Universal arrives with wife Caryn for the Paley Center for Media Los Angeles Gala honoring NBC's Zucker and Dick Ebersol in Los Angeles November 12, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)
Jeff Zucker, president and the Chief Executive of NBC Universal arrives with wife Caryn for the Paley Center for Media Los Angeles Gala honoring NBC's Zucker and Dick Ebersol in Los Angeles November 12, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)
NBC Universal executives (L-R) Marc Graboff, co-chairman NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio, Jeff Zucker, president and Chief Executive of NBC Universal, Ben Silverman, co-chairman, NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio and Jeff Gaspin, president and COO Universal Television Group pose at the Paley Center for Media Los Angeles Gala honoring NBC's Jeff Zucker and Dick Ebersol in Los Angeles November 12, 2007. REUTERS/Fred Prouser (UNITED STATES)
NBC Universal president and CEO Jeff Zucker (L) poses with "Lipstick Jungle" star actress Brooke Shields as they arrive at the NBC Universal Experience as part of upfront week in New York on May 12, 2008. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES)
Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC during the first pitch ceremonies before the Japan-U.S. men's preliminaries baseball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 20, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (CHINA)
Jeff Zucker, president and CEO of NBC during the first pitch ceremonies before the Japan-U.S. men's preliminaries baseball game at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games August 20, 2008. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (CHINA)
Brian Roberts (L) Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp. listens as Jeff Zucker (R) President and CEO of NBC Universal speaks during a hearing held by the House Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee on ?An Examination of the Proposed Combination of Comcast and NBC Universal? on Capitol Hill in Washington February 4, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)
Brian Roberts (L) Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp. and Jeff Zucker (R) President and CEO of NBC Universal talk during a hearing held by the House Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee on ?An Examination of the Proposed Combination of Comcast and NBC Universal? on Capitol Hill in Washington February 4, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)
Brian Roberts (L) Chairman and CEO of Comcast Corp. and Jeff Zucker (R) President and CEO of NBC Universal testify at a hearing held by the House Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee on ?An Examination of the Proposed Combination of Comcast and NBC Universal?on Capitol Hill in Washington February 4, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS POLITICS)
Feb. 14, 2010 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - Olympics Figure Skating Pairs Short Program - NBC President of Entertainment Jeff Zucker talks to spectators during a break in the Figure Skating Pairs Short Program at the 2010 Winter Olympics on February 14, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Credit Image: � Paul Kitagaki Jr./ZUMApress.com) Picture Supplied by Action Images PLEASE NOTE: FOR EDITORIAL SALES ONLY. CONTRACT CLIENTS: ADDITIONAL FEES MAY APPLY - PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ACCOUNT MANAGER
Feb. 14, 2010 - Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada - Olympics Figure Skating Pairs Short Program - NBC President of Entertainment Jeff Zucker talks to spectators during a break in the Figure Skating Pairs Short Program at the 2010 Winter Olympics on February 14, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Credit Image: � Paul Kitagaki Jr./ZUMApress.com) Picture Supplied by Action Images PLEASE NOTE: FOR EDITORIAL SALES ONLY. CONTRACT CLIENTS: ADDITIONAL FEES MAY APPLY - PLEASE CONTACT YOUR ACCOUNT MANAGER
President and Chief Executive Officer of NBC Universal Jeff Zucker arrives at the Simon Wiesenthal Center's 2010 Humanitarian Award Ceremony honoring producer Brian Grazer and director Ron Howard in Beverly Hills, California May 5, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS)
Jeff Zucker (R), president and chief executive officer of NBC Universal, talks to reporters as Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios, and his wife Kelly Chapman wait nearby, as they arrive at the Sun Valley Inn in Sun Valley, Idaho July 8, 2010. The resort is the site for the annual Allen & Co's media and technology conference. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS MEDIA)
CEO of NBC Universal, Jeff Zucker, arrives at the premiere of the movie "Little Fockers" in New York December 15, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS)
President of CNN Worldwide, Jeff Zucker, arrives with Caryn Zucker for the Time 100 gala celebrating the magazine's naming of the 100 most influential people in the world for the past year, in New York, April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS)
Jeff Zucker, president of CNN arrives to meet with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
CNN President Jeff Zucker speaks at the 2017 Business Insider Ignition: Future of Media conference in New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
CNN President Jeff Zucker speaks at the 2017 Business Insider Ignition: Future of Media conference in New York, U.S., November 30, 2017. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
CNN President Jeff Zucker attends a keynote event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
CNN President Jeff Zucker attends a keynote event at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
Jeff Zucker attends the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival opening night premiere of 'Love, Gilda' at Beacon Theatre on April 18, 2018 in New York City. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04: President of CNN Worldwide Jeff Zucker speaks onstage during the Bleacher Report, CNN, and Great Big Story Newfront 2017 on May 4, 2017 in New York City. CNN Newfront 2017_BB, 26969_002 (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Turner)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 17: Jeff Zucker attends the 2017 Turner Upfront at Madison Square Garden on May 17, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
CNN President Jeff Zucker (R) and Don Lemon attend the 10th Annual CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute at the American Museum of Natural History on December 11, 2016 in New York City. / AFP / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
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