last Friday, Atlantic Tim Alberta has released a profile of then-CNN CEO Chris Licht. Licht was banned from the network yesterday.Below is an excerpt from today’s episode of the podcast radio atlanticAlberta reflects on how Licht’s attempts to save the network failed.
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When Chris Licht was brought in to replace former CNN president Jeff Zucker in 2022, he had a mission. He wanted to rid the network of what he considered to be Trump-era mistakes and bring more Republicans into the audience. After long discussions with Licht over the past year, my colleague Tim He Alberta said that while Licht’s theory on how to fix CNNs might make sense, the execution of that theory backfires on every front. I noticed that it seems to come out.
Atlantic Last Friday, it released a key profile for Licht, Alberta. CNN staff learned yesterday that Licht is leaving the network.In today’s episode of the podcast radio atlantic, in the first (and so far only) interview on Licht and the coverage on CNN, Alberta joined host Hannah Rosin to discuss the news of the week. Below are some highlights from their conversation.
Licht came with “incredibly ambitious goals”.
After Alberta told Rosin how hard she worked to promote this article to Licht’s team, she wondered: Why did Alberta want to write this profile so much? “During the Trump era, CNN was truly the epitome of Republican media assault,” he replied. “I’ve spent more time covering Republican voters and Republican campaigns than anyone else in the last five or six years. But I’ve seen time and time again that I’ve become something of a face for the hysterical liberal media that is trying to catch Trump and lead his impeachment and witch hunt. About the day and everything else.”
“Licht came along and made it pretty clear from the outset that his mission was to change perceptions of CNN, so to speak, not to indulge the far right, but to regain some kind of honorable status.” file Republican voters who have been so distrustful of CNN over the past five or six years, and it’s been incredibly distrustful at a very sensitive time for the takeover of one of the world’s biggest news outlets. It struck me as an ambitious target.”
Licht felt awkward from the beginning.
Licht’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker, was loved and described as “an extraordinary man who had a genuine personal relationship with not only the on-air talent, but behind-the-scenes producers and camera crews, almost everyone.” was,” Alberta explained. Licht, on the other hand, “from the beginning, tried to be everything that Zucker wasn’t. He was intentionally unapproachable.”
One of Licht’s first decisions as CEO was to convert Zucker’s former office on the 17th floor of the CNN building, in the heart of the network’s newsroom, into a conference room. He then moved into his 22nd floor office, where most employees didn’t even know how to find it. “And that one act, seemingly small, in so many ways, I think, has defined Licht’s relationship with journalists,” Alberta said.
Licht’s mission wasn’t just for CNN.
“This was about the journalism industry itself,” said Alberta. Licht said, “All the media have made it clear that they feel at the mercy of President Trump, and he believes that if something is not done to fix this problem, most of the country will be forced to retire.” He believed that unless dramatic steps were taken to restore and repair the media’s image in the public eye, it posed a real threat to democracy itself.”
So what happened to that mission?
Alberta quotes “the great philosopher Mike Tyson”. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth… Chris Licht had a plan, but then he came along and got punched in the mouth over and over.
“A recurring theme I’ve heard from many of CNN’s top talent is that in many ways they actually agree with Chris Licht’s mandate, theoretically to assuage some anger. Like he said, we dial up 11 when they really want to, and try to be more selective about making a strong case for certain stories,” Alberta said. “But the performance of that mission really started to falter.”
One particularly vexing question is, “What [to] Just like the Republicans who systematically dismantled our democratic institutions a few years ago and tried to prevent a peaceful transition of power. I mean, what do you do with them? Do you treat them as rational actors who need to give them a platform to reach their audience? ”
Licht’s programming decisions sometimes seem to answer that question in a way that contradicts his stated vision, Alberta said, culminating in the highly criticized station. It was last month’s town hall with Donald Trump.
At the final interview at the University of Alberta, Licht seemed defeated.
When Alberta met with Licht in mid-May, a week after Trump City Hall, “I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over a period of time, and there’s something a little different about his body language.” I felt something, that there was some kind of self-doubt, maybe even a little sadness that things had gone so wrong.”
In retrospect, was Licht’s mission a failure?
Alberta noted that Licht set himself high goals. It was a rethinking of the relationship between Republican voters and the mainstream media, which had been “systematically manipulated” to discredit the mainstream media for decades. Alberta said it was “difficult to draw conclusions other than failure based solely on assessments.” “A year isn’t that long in the big picture, but he hasn’t seen any noticeable improvement in that year. And really, everything measurable is that things are getting worse. was actually shown.”
Mr. Rosin posed the last important question. “As soon as I heard he wasn’t on his CNN, I thought, Is it possible in our political climate to do the kind of reset he was trying to do?”
“I think that’s the $64,000 problem, to be honest,” Alberta replied. He said he thinks some of the “piles” of Licht on the internet are unfair. Alberta said Licht was a “talented man” who had had success in past roles and said, “I think he was given a very difficult hand, but he also pushed himself harder than he should have.” I think,’ he said. ”
“At this point, I don’t know if anyone can do what Chris is trying to do.”
Listen to the entire podcast episode here.
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news of the day
- In a stunning ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 5-4 vote that Alabama’s current congressional map weakens black voters’ suffrage and likely violates the Voting Rights Act.
- A federal prosecutor charged with investigating former President Donald Trump’s possession of classified documents was spotted in a Miami courthouse as a grand jury heard further witness testimony that could point to a possible indictment.
- Baptist minister Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network and founder of the Influential Coalition of Conservative Christians, has died at the age of 93. Robertson is widely regarded as a central figure in the rise of religious conservatism in recent decades.
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people who use their parents’ first names
In the 1971 episode, Brady Bunch, Greg, the eldest son of the family, decides, as a freshly graduated high school student, that he should be treated as a man. When he says he wants his own bedroom, his parents silently agree. When he asks for money to buy new clothes, they give it to him. When he asks for his family’s camping trips to stop, they say okay.
But when he sat down at the breakfast table and called his parents by their first names—“Good morning, Carol!” Good morning, Mike! —Well, that’s a bridge too far. “Now look, Greg,” the father replied, waving his finger. “It may be fashionable to call your parents by their first names these days, but here we are still ‘mother’ and ‘dad’ to you!”
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Kelli María Korduck contributed to this newsletter.