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A new era at CNN is set to begin after the ouster of longtime head Jeff Zucker, who stepped down last month, and the naming of his replacement could signal an overhaul at the network which has struggled to draw viewers since former President Donald J. Trump departed from the White House.
On Monday, initial reports of the new boss were confirmed when it was announced veteran producer Chris Licht had been tabbed by Discovery CEO David Zaslav to replace the scandal-drenched Zucker who during his nine years at the helm, managed to trash what was once one of the most highly renowned news operations in the nation as well as a globally recognizable brand.
Under Zucker, the self-proclaimed “most trusted name in news” degenerated into a stew of sensationalism, fake news, conspiracy-mongering, and race-baiting that alienated viewers to the extent that its lineup is regularly pummeled by competitors who didn’t turn their studios into a clown show.
“CNN will dial down the prime-time partisanship and double down on the network’s news-gathering muscle, top sources tell me,” reported Mike Allen of Axios on what can be expected when it comes to the future at the network which could see a return to the glory days of actual news reporting and a departure from the angry and judgmental hyper-partisanship that became the dominant fare under Zucker.
In his letter to CNN staff, Licht reportedly wrote, “I look forward to getting to know all of you and hearing your candid thoughts and feedback. Our viewers demand the truth from us, and I want to learn the truth from you. Together, we will double-down on what’s working well and quickly eliminate what’s not.”
He added, “I know you have a lot of questions. Perhaps the biggest one is how will CNN change? The honest answer is that I don’t know yet. David Zaslav has given me one simple directive: To ensure that CNN remains the global leader in NEWS as part of Warner Bros. Discovery,” the emphasis on the word NEWS can’t be a good sign for a number of the network’s current stable of opinionated, leftist on-air personalities who must be trembling in fear.
The new hire was announced by CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter who may or may not be around much longer depending on how dramatic the changes that new management intends to make, but if the emphasis is on becoming less partisan, it may be wise to polish up his resume.
It's official: Discovery CEO David Zaslav announces that "we plan to appoint Chris Licht as the new Chairman and CEO of CNN Global." Licht will start May 1, once the Discovery-WarnerMedia deal takes effect.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) February 28, 2022
Twitter users reacted to the news.
Let’s hope that this ends the crying, whining and back stabbing by CNN on air personalities. I’m sure that Chris Licht has made notes and changes will be forthcoming.
— McTavish Gallagher (@McTavishGallag1) February 28, 2022
I certainly hope so. On 9/11 I switched immediately to CNN because I knew they would have the best live and on scene coverage. Until this week haven’t watched 10 minutes of the network in years.
— Dan McNeeley (@Scouter275) February 26, 2022
I stopped watching long ago.
— 💛🐝THEE Lilly G.🍕👑 (@CTinCanada) February 28, 2022
— Brian Cohen (@BrianCohen1979) February 28, 2022
— Mike (@DudeManPodcast1) February 28, 2022
Chris Licht will take Jeff Zucker’s place as CNN’s president. And if you believe that the former executive producer of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and MSNBC’s Morning Joe is going to steer the network away from prime-time partisanship given that track record… OK then. https://t.co/5D2PyOHtQp
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) February 26, 2022
Licht will be leaving his current gig as executive producer of CBS’s “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” and was previously the executive producer of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” neither of which can even remotely be described as bipartisan but Zaslav has been clear in his intention to make big changes at CNN after the Warner Bros-Discovery merger is finalized.
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