A few years ago, Barack Obama sternly said, “Usually, the only people who pretend to be CNN journalists are CNN journalists.”
The joke of the then US president at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner was for the American broadcaster, whose news sometimes read like Hollywood stories.
The powerful CNN has for years been the target of ridicule in the United States for its liberal bias and media and entertainment personality. The new director of the world-renowned news channel now wants to change this image.
Chris Licht, 50, had a successful career: Under his supervision, the CBS Breakfast Show reached historic ratings. Viewership increased for about 50 months in a row.
As host of “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert, Licht made the satirical show one of television’s strongest bulwark against lies and absurdity during Donald Trump’s presidency.
Licht is an imaginative and temperamental man, and one of CNN’s first changes would be to use the popular “breaking news” rule in moderation.
In recent years, CNN has taken a clear stand against Trump. However, many viewers are of the opinion that the station’s journalists have crossed the line of serious reporting on several occasions.
Under the mandate of Licht’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker, who was hired in 2012 and had to leave due to an undisclosed relationship at the company, CNN achieved ratings numbers with unprecedented emotional components.
During the years of Trump’s presidency, viewers weren’t always able to see a sober news show, even in the face of brutal events, or expressions of serious and impartiality rather than outrage.
“For tens of millions of our fellow Americans, their long national nightmare is over,” star journalist Jake Tapper said live after incumbent President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump.
According to some viewers, presidential journalist Jim Acosta appeared more as a Trump opponent than a journalist.
Many Americans sympathize with CNN, while others worry that the channel will further divide American society and prefer a sober presentation of facts to confront the lies. CNN has strong competition with Fox News, Trump’s favorite channel.
It seems a symbol that Jeff Zucker, as NBC’s head of entertainment, made Trump a star in 2004 with reality show “The Apprentice” and that his image propelled him to the highest position in the United States.
In 2020, the New York Times published a cartoon showing Zucker inside the control room, helplessly looking at Trump as a huge monster of his own making.
Also in the 2016 election campaign, CNN and other networks gave Trump’s character and appearance more time than other candidates, because they increased the share of television.
For a long time, presenting yourself in a flashy way was alien to CNN as the world’s first major news channel. This is where Chris Licht comes in.
“One thing I’ve heard from people inside and outside the organization is complaints about overuse of the ‘breaking news’ banner. I agree,” he wrote recently in a note to CNN staff.
“We are communicators of the truth, we focus on informing viewers, not panicking them,” he said. Licht stressed that this should be reflected in the tone of the station.
The attempt to report from across Ukraine has already been seen by some as an attempt to return to the old values of news.
Information rather than hype, this is how Licht wants to bring back the old CNN, bring it back to the center of society and perhaps also make it more credible again for some of the more conservative sectors of American society.
For its part, well-informed news site Axios has hinted that Licht, with the support of his bosses at Warner Bros. Discovery, may go further.
Based on internal sources, the site reports that the new head of CNN will give reporters, reporters and commentators a chance to adapt to the new streak. From now on, interviews and programs should stop looking like publicity stunts to get people’s attention.
If that doesn’t work, Licht will likely take action. The Axios report speculated that “if employees cannot adapt to a less partisan style and strategy, they may be fired.”
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