“Put aside ideology, I think he thinks CNN sucks.”
Republican lawmakers told The Washington Free Beacon that they don’t believe Chris Licht, CNN’s new CEO, when he promises to end the partisanship at the network.
Licht took over when Jeffrey Zucker stepped down for failing to disclose a relationship with a colleague.
CNN has been in disarray for a while. Licht pulled CNN+ a month after the launch. He wants to eliminate the partisanship that grew during President Donald Trump’s administration. He’s supposedly “evaluating whether personalities and programming that grew polarizing” during that time could survive a change to non-bias format.
Last month, Licht met with Democratic and Republican senior congressional leaders “to strengthen the network’s relationships with key lawmakers, many of whom have turned sour on cable news.”
Details: The network boss met with a little less than a dozen lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Republican Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
- Sources with knowledge of the meetings, which occurred in the members’ offices, described them as cordial.
- Licht extended invitations for the lawmakers to join CNN on air and provided data and examples of the network‘s reach and impact.
- He also urged them to consider CNN’s commitment to respectful dialogue and real conversations.
- In addition to discussions about booking opportunities, Licht fielded feedback from lawmakers about CNN’s coverage.
- Some urged CNN to cover the war in Ukraine more. Others wanted to discuss CNN’s coverage of guns in America.
Did it work? Probably not:
“I think he does genuinely want that to happen,” one Republican lawmaker told the Washington Free Beacon. “Put aside ideology, I think he thinks CNN sucks.”
Pressed about how he would change course without making major personnel changes, Licht appears to be relying on the force of his authority and personality, sources said. “He kept saying, ‘I’m in charge, I’m in charge, they answer to me,'” the GOP lawmaker said. “‘They don’t answer to the workforce, they don’t answer to the viewers, they answer to me.'”
The Washington Free Beacon brought up a column at Puck by Dylan Byers because he noticed Licht’s changes include making up the leadership team with “exactly the same people who were working under Zucker.”
“One might disparagingly call it a rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic,” wrote Byers.
Licht appointed Virginia Moseley to executive vice president of editorial, making her “responsible for the bulk of the network’s TV and digital newsgathering.”
Moseley is married to Tom Nides, Biden’s ambassador to Israel.
Others remained at the top as they were under Zucker:
Mr. Licht added that several other news veterans at the network would retain top roles: Michael Bass, the executive vice president of programming; Amy Entelis, the executive vice president of talent and content development; and Ken Jautz, the executive vice president of news.
Among the business-side appointments Mr. Licht announced on Wednesday were two other executives who worked under Mr. Zucker. Johnita Due will be the network’s executive vice president of integrity and inclusion, responsible for CNN standards and practices in addition to her duties overseeing diversity, equity and inclusion. Ramon Escobar, CNN’s senior vice president of talent recruitment and development, will be in charge of the network’s contributors.
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