CNN used to be synonymous with breaking 24-hour news but once Jeff Zucker got hold of the reins he forced the network to the left so hard it tipped the carriage over. The network has struggled to attract viewers as it continued to double and triple down on its radical leftist slant. So radical, in fact, that network anchors calling white male Trump voters the biggest threat in the country while standing in front of burning buildings and calling Black Lives Matter riots “mostly peaceful” are burned into the minds of many Americans.
People tuned out and never came back. The ratings tell the tale more than anything else, with ratings dropping a horrifying 90 percent after 2021.
Now Zucker is out the door with both a sexual scandal and a trashed network smoldering behind him, and with new leadership coming in, some are taking stock of what CNN is and how much needs to be rebuilt. The short answer is “a lot.” Experts are looking at the beleaguered network and seeing something broken and in need of a total makeover.
According to Fox News, as CNN’s parent company WarnerMedia closes its deal with Discovery, big changes are in store for the news network and some wonder if the new regime can restore the once “most trusted name in news” to one that earns the title:
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CNN is in the midst of a “sorry state of affairs” as the network faces looming leadership changes, struggling ratings and “the embarrassing launch of a suboptimal product,” according to a former producer as watchdogs ponder if the new regime can restore the network’s reputation.
It’s a much-publicized period of transition for CNN, as parent company WarnerMedia will finally close a long-planned merger with Discovery in the next few weeks. Former CNN boss Jeff Zucker is long gone after being forced to step aside and his replacement, Chris Licht, isn’t expected to overtake control of the network until at least April 11. Meanwhile, high-powered Discovery CEO David Zaslav will oversee the new Warner Bros. Discovery, which will serve as CNN’s parent company once the merger is complete.
Those still at CNN aren’t exactly sure what Zaslav and Licht will get up to once they’re in power, but one thing that many are expecting is to see the hard-left programming at the network get kicked to the curb with a return to straight reporting of the news. This includes changes to CNN+, the network’s streaming service which was “set up to fail” according to Progress Ventures founder Nick Macshane. Reports say that CNN+ launched to little attention from audiences who refused to pay for CNN if they already weren’t watching it for free.
“CNN+ is currently set up to fail with a subscription-only revenue model,” MacShane wrote in Adweek. “Licht should shift CNN+ to an ad-supported revenue model and build upon CNN’s strengths through strong relationships with top advertisers.”
“If Licht is committed to hard news and running a streaming business, he must rethink the subscription model (and some of CNN+’s content),” he added.
CNN’s horrific reputation follows it everywhere it goes. On the first day of the streaming service’s launch, original CNN anchor Dave Walker was had on by Brian Stelter, one of the network’s Democrat Party propagandists. Instead of applauding CNN, the anchor lit into it.
“I used to anchor at CNN, and now I just yell at CNN,” Walker said. “I think originally, it was pretty much 99 percent news content… as cable news evolved and more competition came into the fray, you had more opinion, particularly in the evening hours. And I would say that’s the major difference now. But maybe with the new ownership that may revert to more just basic news coverage.”
Another former CNN exec had some nasty words for CNN as well and told Fox News what he thought in no uncertain terms, saying the damage Zucker did to the network is “deep and permanent”:
“It’s a sorry state of affairs that when CNN should be shining for its Ukraine coverage, it instead is mired in the embarrassing launch of a suboptimal product like CNN+. Ratings are terrible despite the once-in-a-decade war news that CNN is supposedly made for. We’re now seeing the deep and permanent damage Jeff Zucker did to the once storied CNN brand when he pulled it far left and made it about himself vs Trump,” the media insider said. “Viewers don’t turn to CNN for serious news anymore.”
The network’s future still remains shaky, but the incoming leadership seems set on reviving CNN by eliminating its hard-leftist slant. A highly influential board member at Discovery Communications Inc. and Liberty Media chairman, John Malone, made it clear during a CNBC appearance that CNN should abandon its leftist slant and return to non-partisan news. What’s more, it’s a position Licht seems to be in agreement with:
Walker isn’t alone in publicly hoping CNN reverts to founder Ted Turner’s just-the-facts approach to news. Last year, Liberty Media chairman John Malone, who sits on the board of directors for Discovery Communications Inc. and is considered incredibly influential, made headlines during an appearance on CNBC when he declared CNN should revert to nonpartisan journalism.
“I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,” Malone said.
Licht appears to be on the same page, and told CNN staffers when he was announced as Zucker’s replacement that he would “double-down on what’s working well and quickly eliminate what’s not” in a memo.
In the memo, Licht said he didn’t know what major changes he was going to make just yet, but that he was given a directive by Zaslav to “ensure that CNN remains the global leader in NEWS as part of Warner Bros. Discovery.”
But perhaps he already knows what he’s going to do and the clue is found in the fact that he purposefully wrote “NEWS” in all-caps.
It remains to be seen if Licht will revive the network, but it should be pointed out that his own bias is working against him. Licht is responsible for the creation of many shows, most recently “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” which accused President Donald Trump of being Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “c**k holster.” He was also co-creator of MSNBC’s leftist show “Morning Joe.”
What Licht considers news and what the rest of America considers news may differ. Time will tell, or more accurately, the ratings will.