Below is a topline summary of my reaction to Tim Alberta’s extensive profile of Chris Licht that was published in yesterday’s edition of The Atlantic. For my more expansive thoughts on the revelations, as well as their broader implications for journalism and democracy in America, feel free to watch this video commentary.
I have watched CNN from its beginning. I no longer watch, and I removed the app from my phone. I have no use for Fox Lite.
After reading the Atlantic article, I’m struck with how poorly thought out is Licht’s “philosophy”. Therefore, it’s not surprising he was unable to execute it. When he fired Brian Stetler, whose whole show was a critique on media coverage and, mostly, it’s failures, I knew CNN was done.
This is what explained Licht's belief system to me:
"He believed that Trump owed his initial political ascent in part to the media’s habit of marginalizing conservative views and Republican voters".
Licht thinks he has some great insight here, but he's just a typical blinkered member of the mainstream media. The reality is just the opposite. The MSM has valorized the Republican base for 40+ years but can't see it or get enough of it. For years they have referred to them as 'values voters' and 'real Americans' and 'God fearing patriots'. In 2015-2016 as MAGAs were shouting "Lock her up" and "Build the wall" and beating people of color who came into their events, instead of seeing them for the misogynists, racists and xenophobes they are the MSM pretended they were suffering from 'economic distress' and 'being left behind'. It was a fantasy they completely made up. This is the same idiocy that infected Dean Baquet's executive editorship during the Trump years. Pandering and condescending to white, rural, Republican Americans has been a mainstream media disease for decades, and one which they refuse to let go of and that they rationalize into some journalistic ethos. In reality, it's a twisted, self-conscious form of ass-covering to immunize themselves from accusations of 'bias'. And it doesn't even accomplish that.
Fascism is public enemy number one. The GOP is fascist.
What a shame...it is all so frustrating. I am in Europe now (Swiss husband) and it is such a pleasure to sit down and just watch the news being read. Not that they have it all figured out, but I welcome watching the news here, and love comparing the different country newscasts. Why don’t the American stations try something different- just go back to reading the news, that’s it.
It appears that Chris Licht's attempt at increasing viewership by including the lies and liars of the far right has backfired. I stopped watching CNN all together after the Trump townhall. That was the straw that broke the camels back for me. I am so sick of hearing the lies coming out of Trump's corrupt mouth that every time I see his face I immediately turn the channel. Coverage of Trump, other than his crimes and eventual punishment, is not news worthy. I don't care that he is once again running for President. That fact has already been stated and no further comments should be made about the poor excuse of a human being. Giving Trump time to spread more lies is not news worthy.
Whatever happened to reporting national news besides politics. When CNN started that is exactly what they did. There was a balance between politics and national news. I wish they would go back to that model of news coverage. Politics 24/7 is unhealthy for anyone, especially one with high blood pressure. I long for the days when I could hear news from all corners of our great country. Furthermore, CNN used to have an international network of news coverage that aired at least a few times a day. I have not seen that coverage in a long time. It would be nice to have reliable and updated news coverage along with politics during the day. A better balance is what their network needs.
You nailed it ~ “Trump Industrial Complex”. It’s cancerous metastatic tentacles are everywhere. It is revealed in the very concept of putting an entertainment CEO connected with the Apprentice at the head of what should be a journalistic news organization. I am an RN. Cancer starts small but when it spreads untreated by early intervention it goes like wildfire and consumes every healthy organ in its path, ultimately ending in death. Our trust in these news organizations is dying. Perhaps ultimately the organizations themselves will die out and be replaced by healthy truthful ones. Denial is often the first human response to hearing that cancer is present. Our population can no longer tell truth from lies because they do not recognize the hidden cancer overtaking what were once trusted sources. So great to see and hear you on video again Steve, bringing your sledgehammer vocal and commanding voice and emphatic presence hammering relentlessly against the lies and for the truth. Please never stop.
Alberta’s piece highlights Licht’s narcissism without overtly calling it out. That was a mistake. Narcissism is the 21st century malady that afflicts so many people in positions of power precisely because the systems where it flourishes rewards it, even when it goes wrong (as it always does). Licht doesn’t know what he doesn’t know yet struts around CNN as if he has all the answers - as if his thoughts were novel. Licht thought he could execute a ridiculous plan thought up by 2 narcissists at a dinner table & all would be well. Narcissism has become so ubiquitous in our society that unless you are the poster man-baby, Trump, it can be difficult to recognize. Narcissists psychotic ego structure stunts their development, making them fragile beings who must assert their dominance & worldview lest the rest of us figure out that they are exactly who they fear they are: damaged, afraid & alone.
A friend of mine came up with "Chris Lichtspittle" to describe this turd. The man is ten levels above his Peter Principle Point.
As someone who has watched the psychopaths, rapists (literally!), illiterates (Jon Peters, anyone?), sociopaths, fools (Mark Canton, anyone?), morons and idiots who have populated the upper reaches of Hollywood Executive-dom for 40 years, David Zaslav is the worst of the lot. All the taste he has is in his mouth, as witness what he did with the Discovery networks over the past ten years. The $250 million he's being paid this year to wreck Warner Brothers is enough to settle every issue in the WGA strike.
Malone! There is always the big money pulling all the strings. Sickening.
CNN’s self-inflicted collapse did not need to happen but it did. When performance supersedes focus then the slide to failure is already underway. Farewell CNN. Will not watch or read your “reporting “ as it would be more useful fertilizing my vegetable bed.
Remember "back in the day" when every TV in every airport was tuned into CNN?
My belief is that the root of all evil is quarterly earnings reports. We used to invest in companies for the long term. Now it is how much profit did it make me last quarter.
I learned managing people at HP (also back in the day) that we all behave as we are measured. If shareholders are demanding returns quarter after quarter then the conglomerate of news organizations under one roof start churning out click bait and sensationalism rather than facts and in depth reporting of truth. I think it can even be said that capitalism is not good for journalism.
I think it can also be said that local journalism is a MUST if our society is to survive in the light.
Chris Licht and David Zaslav are both trying to appease John Malone, with whom Licht's political views align. According to Keith Olbermann, Licht routinely interfered with political coverage on MSNBC when he produced for Joe Scarborough. In fact, KO claims he once did this at the request of the McCain campaign. (It would have been an interesting avenue to explore in your interview with KO--he's also been unfairly critical of Nicolle Wallace--but truthfully you handled him with kid gloves. But I digress.) Zucker made some bad decisions, but he was no Chris Licht. Jeffrey Lord and the others you named were on CNN briefly and as guests. Zucker never fired talented journalists for speaking the truth.
From the standpoint of responsible print journalists the entire broadcast press went into the tank during Trump’s primary run in 2016. The NY Times was also complicit as it did not document Trump’s sketchy and lewd history as a NY businessman. My husband began calling him out publicly in the 1980s as a fraud, a vulgarian, misogynist and a liar and gave him the nickname “young Donald.” Trump didn’t invent nicknames.
During the runup to the 2016 campaign Jeff Zucker’s CNN coverage was reprehensible. The coverage of Comey sinking HIllary Clinton a week before the general election was pivotal. I watched it all unfold.
Even now.CNN and MSNBC talk about Trump continuously. This elevates him and much of the coverage is nonsense. The Kaitlin Collins town hall was tragic. Why does nobody push back with this creep? He told Collins she is nasty -- why couldn’t she have replied that he’s not so nice himself? My 14 year old Granddaughter could have done a better job. She’s more articulate and has no fear.
One issue with journalism today is that reporters need stiffer spines. If you worry about your career you trim your sails. That’s a huge part of this issue. Christiane Amanpour does it right a majority of the time and we should be looking to her at the other professionals for whom the truth is more important than a specific job.
Democracy and truth must triumph over transactionalism and business. Or as Steve wisely suggests, we are headed into the vortex of fascism at speed.
Kudos for this richly deserved verbal neutron bombing of CNN management (and kudos to The Atlantic for their expose, a fine example what solid journalism is).
What a sad and needless demise from its glory days during and after the 1st Iraq war - when it was a relevant beacon of fair and objective news.
Furthermore, there is still some fine talent there in the ranks that really respect - but I doubt they will stick around for long unless a “major reorg” is implemented.
Frankly, there needs to be a collective “CNN shunning” by advertisers and viewers. Switch the channel, delete the App. Reality: when viewership (and hence revenue) tumbles that’s when heads roll... but it is meaningless if it is piecemeal and there is not a top-down fundamental shift back towards honest journalism as having the top priority.
Steve, the ride of fascism IS the story of this century, you’re absolutely right! Why the main stream media can’t wake up and cover it I cannot begin to fathom. In my opinion, if they did that it would be a ticket to increased viewership. And, we Americans get what we expect from the news media, which isn’t much. Until we demand that the news media become again an arbiter of truth, we will continue to get the swill that the news media pawns off to us as news coverage. If we demanded and only listened to and viewed REAL, factual news instead of infotainment we will continue to get what we get, which isn’t much. How sad it is we Americans can learn more about our country from the BBC instead of CBS.
PS Chris Licht is not a journalist, he’s a pawn, a huckster sold out to the highest bidder.