New CNN president announces different direction for network, vows to be a ‘beacon’ for journalism

Perhaps no company has had a worse year than CNN but, according to its new president, Chris Licht, the network will be turning away from cable news “extremism” in a bid to become a “beacon” for journalism.

Speaking at the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront presentation at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, Licht announced a new direction for the embattled network, whose multi-million-dollar CNN+ streaming service folded just weeks after it launched, Variety reported.

Licht stated that he saw the mega-merger between Warner Bros., formerly CNN’s parent company, and media giant Discovery, as an opportunity to chart a new path in a sea of cable news competitors, such as Fox News Channel and MSNBC, whom Licht sees as partisan.

“The next chapter in CNN is one where we aspire to be a beacon for the kind of journalism essential to a functioning democracy,” he told attendees. “At a time where extremes are dominating cable news, we will seek to go a different way reflecting the real lives of our viewers and elevating the way America and the world views this medium.”

It’s a mighty big promise from a network that has seen its viewership tank during its blatantly partisan coverage of the Biden administration, and whose anchors and executives have been slammed with scandal after scandal.

In its latest dilemma, it was revealed that the wife of newly-named White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, Suzanne Malveaux, is a CNN national correspondent, begging the question of how “nonpartisan” can CNN possibly be under such an arrangement?

But Licht was apparently unconcerned with that particular detail as he touted CNN’s return to “tradition.”

“We intend to challenge the traditional philosophy of cable news, delivering programming and commentary that questions the status quo, shatters groupthink, holds our leaders on both sides of the aisle and accountable to facts, and fights fearlessly to get to the truth.”

It’s going to be a hard sell to at least half of the country, as evidenced by the reaction to Licht’s announcement on Twitter.

CNN host Brian Stelter tweeted about the upfront presentation, and the responses were less than enthusiastic.

“This is like a prisoner live-tweeting his execution,” replied one user.

“[Liberty Media Chairman] John Malone called you out by name while discussing his vision for a new CNN. You know this right?” another wrote. “It wasn’t a compliment.”

Even those users who are apparently left-leaning are skeptical of the network’s new leader, proving that it will be hard for CNN to truly please anyone.

“Using the word ‘Extremes’ makes it seem like CNN will be committing to more both-sides journalism,” the user replied. “I hope that’s not what Licht is saying. The GOP is increasingly anti-democracy so both-siding is just moving the goal posts to the right.”

Melissa Fine


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