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.

"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."