Who’s in, who’s out? New CNN chief reportedly monitoring talent unable to adapt to neutral direction

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.”

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.”

Here’s a quick sampling of other responses to the story, to include a few other possible jettisons mentioned, from Twitter:


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