Liberal CNN needs “actual journalists,” billionaire media mogul John Malone told CNBC in an interview in which he explained there is a place for the news channel in the proposed $43 billion combination of WarnerMedia and Discovery into a new entity Warner Bros. Discovery.
“I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,” said Malone, who is longtime chairman of Liberty Media, which is a major shareholder in Discovery and will be the controlling partner of the new media combination.
“I do believe good journalism could have a role in this future portfolio that Discovery-TimeWarner’s going to represent,” he said.
CNN will be the key news property in the merged company, one that will be dominated by entertainment programming. There had been rumors that CNN might be spun off or sold, but Malone indicated that’s not likely.
He described such a move as “a coward’s way out would be to sell [CNN] or spin it off and then sell it.”
But Malone has cause to worry about the left-wing network.
CNN’s ratings have collapsed over 50% in the past year and may be suffering from a credibility gap with viewers.
After several years of false and inaccurate reporting about a so-called effort by the Trump campaign to collude with Russia to manipulate the 2016 elections, CNN last week reluctantly admitted its reporting fell short of the facts.
Several probes, including that of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, found no evidence Trump or his campaign engaged in any collusion with Russia.
And the basis of the allegations were made in the Steele Dossier, an investigative report that had been paid for by Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and found to be almost completely baseless.
Last March, a Hill-HarrisX poll found that 47% of registered voters believe CNN holds a liberal bias in its reporting.
In the wake of revelations about the Steele dossier, The Washington Post has moved to correct numerous stories that included false reporting, but CNN has refused to edit and notify their readers and viewers of false statements it had reported as true.
Under the deal with Discovery that AT&T announced in May, it will unwind its $85 billion acquisition of TimeWarner, which closed about three years ago.
Both companies will then establish a new and separate media company that will bring together AT&T-owned CNN, HBO and the Warner Bros. studio and Discovery’s channels.
The transaction is expected to be closed by the middle of next year.
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