Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav says CNN will be renewing its focus on "journalism," signaling the left-leaning network could soon return to its straight-news roots of previous decades, while simultaneously creating a product which appeals to political conservatives.
In recent years CNN became one of the leading anti-Trump and anti-Republican networks with its media critic and host Brian Stelter acting as a leftwing inquisitor pushing efforts to have Trump banned from Facebook and Twitter – and cable networks like Fox and Newsmax to be "deplatformed" from major cable systems.
Zaslav, who oversees CNN, told reporters in Sun Valley, Idaho, Tuesday that CNN's revamped news approach will pay off in the long term.
"Journalism first. America needs a news network where everybody can come and be heard. Republicans, Democrats," said Zaslav, the New York Post reports. "I think you're seeing more of that at CNN. We're not going to look at the ratings; and, in the long run, it's going to be worth more."
In the aftermath of division head Jeff Zucker being ousted from the network, after reportedly failing to disclose a romantic relationship with an executive from within the company, Zaslav tapped Chris Licht as the new head of CNN.
The initial mandate for Licht, a former executive producer of CBS's "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert": Move away from the partisan, Trump-focused approach that might have defined Zucker's legacy at CNN.
"I think Chris is doing a great job pivoting CNN," Zaslav told Variety.
Under Licht's direction, CNN has pulled back on the heavy usage of its "breaking news" banner during opinion-based shows.
"The problem is, we are not a neutral country," a CNN source told the Post. "The ratings are getting worse because they are taking out all the bells and whistles. CNN's ratings are as bad as local news ratings."
The source continued, "New management is not freaking out, but everyone else at CNN is. They want to fix the shows first, but they don't realize the shows and ratings are connected."
According to a New York Post story from last January, CNN sustained a massive drop of 90% in total viewership and demo viewership, compared to January 2021. CNN endured one of its lowest-rated months in June.
According to TV ratings agency Nielsen, CNN's weekend ratings for June reached yearly lows in the crucial 25- to 54-year-old demographic, along with total viewers.
Also for this June, CNN's "Reliable Sources," featuring host Stelter, turned in its lowest-rated month since June 2001 — 79,000 demo viewers and 585,000 average total viewers.
"Reliable Sources," which covers media-driven topics, also posted its lowest second quarter since 2019, averaging 679,000 viewers and 111,000 demo viewers.
As such, citing a recent Axios report, the CNN staffers' commitment to the new programming model will be evaluated by Licht; and any dissenters "could be ousted."
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