Flop Sweat Builds as CNN's New Head Honcho Evaluates On-Air Staff for 'Partisan Tone'

Even before he officially took over CNN, network CEO Chris Licht was promising big changes to come for the struggling “news” organization, with one of them being a thorough review of their reporters and anchors to determine whether or not they came across as more partisan than impartial in their reporting.


He wasn’t the only one. Back in April, CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said that CNN should stick to actual reporting more than slanted coverage. “If we get that, we can have a civilized society,” Zaslav stated in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. “And without it, if it all becomes advocacy, we don’t have a civilized society.”

Apparently, the promised evaluation of staff members for partisan leanings has started, with “journalist” Jim Acosta and media hall monitor Brian Stelter among those who are reportedly being closely watched “to see if they can comport w new style — no interviews that look like stunts.” If it’s determined that they can’t get with the new program under Licht, they may find themselves looking for new jobs:


Axios also reported that Licht was willing to give partisan actors on the network a second chance provided they demonstrate they’re amenable to changing their ways:

Licht wants to give personalities that may appear polarizing a chance to prove they’re willing to uphold the network’s values so that they don’t tarnish CNN’s journalism brand.

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.


Licht doesn’t want to necessarily shy away from personality programming, especially in prime time, but he wants to ensure that partisan voices don’t dominate in a way that harms CNN, a source notes.

Color me among the many who are skeptical that the “review” of the various media figures at CNN is actually going to bear fruit and lead to much-needed change the outlet, especially considering that Licht was a co-creator of MSNBC’s highly partisan “Morning Joe” program, and for a decade was the executive producer and showrunner of the “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” a guy who never met a Democrat he didn’t like.


But considering Brian Stelter’s and Jim Acosta’s names keep being mentioned in the reports about how CNN wants to go in a different direction than the far-left one Jeff Zucker took them in under his watch, one has to think they’re probably sweating quite a bit in wondering what the future holds for them at CNN, and are perhaps updating their resumes as we speak. Because quite honestly out of the many there who unabashedly wear their political biases on their shoulders like a badge of honor, Acosta and Stelter rank pretty close to the top of the list.

Related: CNN Makes a Surprisingly Welcome Move That Fox News Should Consider, Too


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