There’s a new sheriff in town at CNN, and he may be looking to unload “overtly partisan talent” and recast the network as a more straightforward and unbiased news organization.
According to a report by AXIOS, Licht is investigating the partisan programming and personalities for house cleaning. The report revealed that personalities and programming that cannot uphold the values of the network, its “new priority” to be less partisan and not tarnish CNN’s journalism brand might get the boot.
Licht made it clear he is taking the news giant in a different direction. He sees a less combative and more “traditional journalism” focus for the company. He expects respectful interviews that aren’t PR stunts and for those in production, that means making programming decisions focused on nuance, not noise.
According to the New York Times, the “Breaking News” banner is gone. Instead, it’s now reserved for when events are “breaking news,” and the sarcastic onscreen captions are discouraged.
The new leadership also encouraged their 4,000 plus employees to pay no attention to the “Twitter backlash from the far-left or the far-right.”
The new direction isn’t to dodge personality programming entirely, but Licht wants to ensure the partisan voices don’t dominate in ways that hurt the brand. Licht’s priorities are “widely seen as aligned with the leadership of CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.”
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav and investor John Malone have verbalized their desire to pull CNN away from “alarmist” and “progressive commentary.” Zaslav announced last year he wanted to move CNN back to the middle.
“I would like to see CNN evolve back t the kind of journalism that it started with and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,” Malone told CNBC in November. “I do believe good journalism could have a role in this future portfolio that Discovery-Time Warner’s going to represent.”
Earlier this week, billionaire Elon Musk gave the programming changes a nod of acceptance, tweeting, “Sounds promising,” in response to the New York Times report.
This sounds promising
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 5, 2022