CNN Plans to Return to Journalism, but Is It Too Late?

AP Photo/Ron Harris

One of the most prominent activist media outlets might be turning over a new leaf. Or perhaps it will go back to a leaf it had abandoned seven, fateful years ago. Perhaps this new/old leaf could help the company regain at least a semblance of its prior credibility.

Or maybe I’m beating this leaf analogy to death.

Either way, it appears Chris Licht, the new head honcho over at CNN, is dead set on returning the activist media network to its former glory. Axios reported that Licht is “evaluating whether personalities and programming that grew polarizing during the Trump era can adapt to the network’s new priority to be less partisan.”

Good luck with that, Mr. Licht.

The report further notes that if “talent cannot adjust to a less partisan one and strategy, they could be ousted,” according to three sources that spoke with Axios. The new CEO is willing to give these personalities an opportunity to show they are “willing to uphold the network’s values so that they don’t tarnish CNN’s journalism brand.”

Do you feel like you’re living in a Bizarro world yet?

But wait, dear reader, it gets even loonier.

From Axios:

For on-air talent, that includes engaging in respectful interviews that don’t feel like PR stunts. For producers and bookers, that includes making programming decisions that are focused on nuance, not noise.

As we all know, the network’s approach to the news once former President Donald Trump came onto the scene became virulently anti-Trump. The outlet was once recognized as a legitimate purveyor of news even though it did carry a left-leaning bias. But when the Orange Man What is Bad starting gaining momentum, it abandoned any pretense of objectivity and transformed into an anti-Trump progressive activist media organization hellbent on pushing a far-leftist agenda.

Now, even with Trump out of office, the former news outlet has functioned as the Democratic Party’s Ministry of Propaganda. Media activists like anchor Don Lemon, Brianna Keilar, and others have spent the past seven years shilling for the Democrats at nearly every turn. As a result, the network’s ratings dropped precipitously. There isn’t anything one can say about CNN’s standing that hasn’t already been said about Michael Avenatti’s career.

Under former president Jeff Zucker, on-air personalities like Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter became the most prominent voices of the network. Each was decidedly anti-Trump and 1,000 percent partisan.

Licht, for his part, is not necessarily opposed to including personality programming in the mix – but “he wants to ensure that partisan voices don’t dominate in a way that harms CNN,” according to Axios.

In a previous report, Axios noted how the new leadership plans to dial back much of the sensationalist aspects of the network’s programming. Licht added a “Breaking News” guideline to its stylebook to “address overuse of the breaking news banner across its network and cable news writ-large.”

In a memo obtained by Axios, he said, “we are truth-tellers, focused on informing, not alarming our viewers” and that the banner “has become such a fixture on every channel and network that its impact has become lost on the audience.”

The new president insisted that the network “must be vital, relevant, and respected” and that “how we show up for our audiences, in every story, in every part of the country, and around the world, matters.”

If you have been paying attention to politics over the past few years, you might feel you are living in the Twilight Zone at this moment. If you’re like me, you never would have expected CNN to finally realize the error of its ways and return to actual news reporting. In fact, I’m still skeptical.

If Licht is sincere in his desire to reverse course, that would be a welcome sign. CNN is not the only news outlet to go full Progressive Pravda™, but it has been one of the loudest of Trump-deranged networks around — despite still claiming to be objective observers of the truth. It will take a lot to pull the organization back to its roots. For Democratic hacks like Jim Acosta, Don Lemon, and others, it might be too difficult to change their spots. Asking them to give up their Trump obsession would be like asking Willie Nelson to give up the ganja.

But there is another question that is raised: Is it too late? Can CNN ever recover from the pit in which it finds itself? Will anyone ever take them seriously again? It depends. In a world in which people are craving actual, genuine reporting, the public might find such a change of pace refreshing. Nevertheless, it is equally possible that folks have become so jaded that it won’t matter. Either way, it shows one important truth: People are tired of being propagandized.


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