CNN: We’re really trying to be less of a Democratic mouthpiece

Source: Hot Air

When CNN dumped Brian Stelter, many wondered if that was a sign of things to come now that the network is under the direction of Warner Discovery and Chris Licht. There was more downsizing to come, but Stelter was one of the bigger names to get the ax, as well as being one of the most blatantly partisan liberal voices in their stable. They are reportedly trying to “inject more balance” into their programming while becoming “less radioactive to Republicans.” These recent announcements and projected change of course are the closest we’ve seen CNN come to admitting that they had evolved into a liberal cheerleading squad for Democrats, leading to a precipitous decline in their ratings. But as this report from the Associated Press admits, “how and whether that can be accomplished remains a mystery.” You can say that again.

The news network, now under the Warner Discovery corporate banner and led since spring by CNN Worldwide Chairman Chris Licht, is trying to inject more balance into its programming and become less radioactive to Republicans. How and whether that can be accomplished remains a mystery.

“CNN has to figure out what it wants to be,” said Carol Costello, a former anchor there and now a journalism instructor at Loyola Marymount University.

Former President Donald Trump portrayed CNN as an enemy, and a Pew Research Center study illustrated the impact that had with his followers. In 2014, Pew found that one-third of people who identify or lean Republican said they distrusted CNN as a source for political news. By 2019, that number had shot up to 58 percent — higher distrust than The New York Times, The Washington Post or MSNBC.

Former CNN anchor and journalism professor Carol Costello is quoted in the linked report. She admits that Donald Trump pretty much broke quite a bit of the mainstream media and during his presidency, “our reporting was kind of hysterical.” I’m sure many conservatives would agree, but whether you take the word to mean “tending toward hysterics” or simply “hilarious” remains in the eye of the beholder.

Other changes have been showing up without any sort of official announcement. Brianna Keilar, CNN’s morning anchor, used to regularly feature segments from Fox News which she would criticize for a variety of reasons. (Stelter used to show more footage of Fox News than Fox News did on some days.) But for many weeks now, Keillar’s air time has not included a single clip from Fox.

Part of Licht’s new plan involves tempting some Republicans to start coming back on the network. He wants his hosts to reach out and assure them that they are not just being invited to act as pincushions for liberal attacks. I generally have CNN on my television (with the sound muted) while I’m working in the morning and I’ve seen a few signs of progress on that front. CNN has welcomed Tim Scott and Dan Crenshaw recently, and neither of them seemed to require any bandages after their segments finished.

CNN sold itself for decades as the home of straightforward journalism. And in the beginning, they seemed to accomplish that. Most of their stories focused on the old-school principle of “who, what, where, when,” with a lot less emphasis on “why.” I’m not sure when that began to seriously change, but it was already happening before Trump came down that golden escalator. Trump’s presidency really drove everyone at CNN off the deep end, however.

CNN was never going to do well trying to act as a liberal counterweight to Fox. MSNBC was already filling that role and they’ve never taken their foot off the gas. Meanwhile, Fox swept the cable news ratings once again in July and Tucker Carlson is the most watched cable news host in the country. His audience is more than double the size of CNN’s Anderson Cooper and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes combined.

So can CNN pull off this sort of devolution back toward being a “hard news” outlet and not a liberal opinion factory? It would be a pleasant change, and it would probably allow more Republicans to have their views heard by people who are not part of the locked-in Fox News viewership.