CNN has a new boss, and it appears the new CEO, Chris Licht, is unhappy with how Jeff Zucker ran the cable news outlet. Licht has the formidable task of saving the flailing network that relied on hatred for President Donald Trump and Republican voters to buoy its ratings for four years. Even now, the network focuses relentlessly on January 6, when most Americans have moved on to literal kitchen table issues. Like how expensive putting food on one is.
In one of his first moves, Licht is going all out. Last week Axios reported that he went to Capitol Hill and met with members of both parties. A CNN spokesperson told Axios:
“I won’t comment on private meetings, but Chris has made it clear that his top priority is to make CNN a place for fair and respectful dialogue, analysis and debate. He believes our audiences deserve to hear from elected officials on both sides of the aisle and will continue to engage a variety of voices.“
The report indicated that Licht met with leadership from both parties. He apparently sought feedback from lawmakers about CNN’s coverage and encouraged them to accept invitations to appear. Maybe this means Licht has kicked Adam Schiff out of his tent in the green room where he waits to appear and talk about shoes getting ready to drop and other things that never happen.
However, new reporting from The Washington Free Beacon shows the visit was a bit more in-depth and specifically targeted Republican lawmakers who no longer appear on the network.
The network boss camped out in mid-July in a room on the first floor of the Senate side of the Capitol, S-120, where he asked GOP lawmakers to come talk with him privately. That arrangement avoided alerting the reporters who stalk the halls of the Capitol, sources said, and accommodated Republican lawmakers who preferred not to be seen hobnobbing with him.
Licht’s message, according to one of the lawmakers who sat down with him as well as to several sources briefed on the exchanges: “We want to win back your trust.”
The CNN chief spent between 45 minutes and an hour cajoling GOP lawmakers who no longer appear on the network to come back on the air — and assuring them he’d praise producers for inviting them and communicate his displeasure if he doesn’t believe they are treated fairly
These overtures follow reports that Licht asked anchors to stop using the phrase “The Big Lie,” emphasized scaling back blaring headlines, and implored staff to take a non-partisan approach to the news. Some sources reported his goal is to “discourage spectacle and alarmism, as well as the chest-thumping fulminations that defined Jeff Zucker’s CNN during the Trump era,”
Not much has happened to achieve Licht’s articulated strategy. The man Tucker Carlson calls “The Eunuch,” Brian Stelter, was happily carrying water for New York Times columnist and often wrong economist Paul Krugman just yesterday. According to this less-than-dynamic-duo, there is no recession. It was a simple restatement of the administration’s talking points. The ostensibly “fair and balanced” Jake Tapper, who receives more grace from Conservatives than he should, is retweeting Jon Stewart’s lies about the PACT bill. And, of course, “Republican” Liz Cheney gets all the air time she wants.
There is not a single person that appears on CNN today that can competently articulate the mainstream Republican or Conservative point of view. And if one appears, they are challenged, insulted, interrupted, and dismissed. Bill Maher is more respectful of Ben Shapiro than any “straight news” anchor on CNN would be.
If Licht would like to be taken seriously by any actual Republican, every person who lacked the curiosity or the courage to report accurately on Russian Collusion must go. That years-long nightmare will go down as one of the most consequential partisan law enforcement blunders in American history. CNN staff played a leading role in pushing the disinformation about it.
Anyone who called the Hunter Biden laptop “Russian disinformation” must also be shown the door. They relied on a letter written by people without first-hand knowledge of the content to avoid reporting on very consequential information about the Biden family’s business dealings. They were part of a conspiracy in media and social media that likely impacted an election by choosing not to report on it.
Until Licht’s reported vision becomes a reality, Republicans should call it a stalemate. Before anyone allows CNN to build any bipartisan credibility, certain conditions should be met. First, the “Russia, Russia, Russia” crew needs to be replaced. Then, someone from Team Trump who did not turn on him after January 6 needs a legitimate spot on the network. Finally, CNN must agree to equal time and equal treatment. If Jake Tapper can’t be bothered to let Senator Pat Toomey explain what is going on with the PACT bill without interruption or admonishment, no deal. Because we all know he would let Jon Stewart go on an uninformed and uninterrupted rant.
Once again, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his team have the correct response to the legacy media. They restricted media access to the Sunshine Summit without apology. After the left-wing media meltdown, Press Secretary Christina Pushaw explained on Twitter, “This was not a government/official event, so 1A principles don’t require them to allow liberal media. It was a political event organized by the Republican Party of Florida. This is a freedom of association issue, not a free speech issue.”
Team DeSantis also declined an invitation from the coven on The View. There is no reason to give unfriendly outlets seeking a gotcha moment any eyeballs. They hate and insult Republican voters and root for GOP candidates to lose. Republicans in Washington should take a cue from DeSantis and tell Licht to go pound sand until he makes some significant changes at CNN.