Zakaria spoke to NPR correspondent David Folkenflik on Friday for a profile of CNN and its relatively new managing editor, Mark Whitaker.
The piece emphasizes Whitaker's attempts to bring more reportorial depth to the network, and Zakaria said that the efforts are working.
"CNN is getting smarter, and you can feel it in the stories," Zakaria said. "You can feel it in the depth with which they're covered, the kinds of people in terms of guests who are brought on air, the ways in which issues are discussed."
He then said that CNN shouldn't even be trying to compete with Fox News.
"The people who watch Fox are not going to watch CNN. Let's be honest," Zakaria said. "Our competitors should properly be The New York Times, the BBC and NPR."