It comes as no surprise that amid reports of the possibility of ousting partisan talent at CNN, Brian Stelter and Jim Acosta are among the first names mentioned.
CNN’s new president, Chris Licht, is reportedly evaluating “whether personalities and programming that grew polarizing during the Trump era” can adapt to the network’s new editorial direction that’s expected to be less partisan, according to Axios.
After Warner Bros. Discovery took control of the network, Discovery CEO David Zaslav explained that CNN will be organized “to advocate for journalism first,” prioritizing “more accurate information and less yelling and conflict.” Licht said at the time that the next chapter “is one where we aspire to be a beacon for the kind of journalism essential to a functioning democracy.”
“In 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,” Licht said at the Upfront presentation.
The question is, who’s in and who’s out?
“If talent cannot adjust to a less partisan tone and strategy, they could be ousted, three sources familiar with the matter tell Axios. Licht wants to give personalities that may appear polarizing a chance to prove they’re willing to uphold the network’s values so that they don’t tarnish CNN’s journalism brand,” Axios reported. “For on-air talent, that includes engaging in respectful interviews that don’t feel like PR stunts. For producers and bookers, that includes making programming decisions that are focused on nuance, not noise.”
🚨 SCOOP @sarafischer @axios:
CNN’s Chris Licht scrutinizes talent for partisan tone … monitoring anchors including Jim @Acosta, @brianstelter to see if they can comport w new style — no interviews that look like stunts
Those who can’t may get canned https://t.co/i01vTgZ4Op
— Mike Allen (@mikeallen) June 7, 2022
In noting that CNN’s tone “became more partisan and combative during the Trump era and under the leadership of former CNN president Jeff Zucker,” Axios said Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter “have become the face of the network’s liberal shift” in the eyes of critics on the right.
Licht is not necessarily going to nix personality programming at CNN, a source said, but he wants to ensure that partisan voices don’t dominate in a way that is harmful to the network.
Last week, he addressed the overuse of the “Breaking News” banner at CNN, telling employees in a memo, “We are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers.”
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald weighed in to suggest that Jake Tapper may be the only one left standing before adding, “Think of all the ex-CIA operatives, FBI agents, and DOJ prosecutors whose jobs are at risk.”
If CNN cleansed itself of hosts and on-air personalities who are hard-core DNC partisans, they’d have nobody left except Jake Tapper and a meteorologist if that still exists there.
Think of all the ex-CIA operatives, FBI agents, and DOJ prosecutors whose jobs are at risk.😢 https://t.co/bH02JGFXVC
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) June 7, 2022
Here’s a quick sampling of other responses to the story, to include a few other possible jettisons mentioned, from Twitter:
Is the suggestion here Acosta and Stelter are wildly partisan, because my stars that would be quite the revelation. https://t.co/BEJdTIJuXO
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) June 7, 2022
Sounds like Brian, Jim and so many others are on DOUBLE SECRET PROBATION!
Most there including @secupp @amandacarpenter and so many others have drank so much Kool Aid, I don’t think there’s any going back for them! https://t.co/Z0wsQcTfJP
— Cable News Watch (@CableNewsWatch) June 7, 2022
This is super interesting. When I appeared on CNN 2017-2019 I always felt welcome but outnumbered. But I held my own and it seemed productive. It definitely got worse across that period. By the time I woke up after my cancer treatment in Feb ‘21 I didn’t even recognize the place. https://t.co/hOSnYu1VjD
— Michael Caputo (@MichaelRCaputo) June 7, 2022
John Harwood, call your office. https://t.co/StMhzZwBgL
— Noam Blum (@neontaster) June 7, 2022
For years @brianstelter looked a viewers straight in the face and said he and others like @Acosta were just reporting facts in a non partisan way. Now their new boss is basically saying that was a lie. https://t.co/yVwRgIVaHg
— a newsman (@a_newsman) June 7, 2022
Keep you head on a swivel, Tater. https://t.co/z6ibA5M3TM pic.twitter.com/a9OZcwXLB7
— NeverTweet (@LOLNeverTweet) June 7, 2022
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