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CNN management intent on changing perception of the network

NY — It had been the type of story that media reporter Brian Stelter would normally sink his teeth into only if it didn’t involve him.

CNN said the other day it had been cancelling Reliable Sources, its 30-year-old program on the media, and letting Stelter go, section of a nascent effort by new management to reclaim a brandname identity that it feels was damaged through the Trump era.

The news headlines network, now beneath the Warner Discovery corporate banner and led since spring by CNN Worldwide Chairman Chris Licht, is wanting to inject more balance into its programming and be less radioactive to Republicans. How and whether which can be accomplished remains a mystery.

CNN must find out what it really wants to be, said Carol Costello, a former anchor there and today a journalism instructor at Loyola Marymount University.

Former President Donald Trump portrayed CNN being an enemy, and a Pew Research Center study illustrated the impact that had along with his followers. In 2014, Pew discovered that one-third of individuals who identify or lean Republican said they distrusted CNN as a source for political news. By 2019, that number had raised to 58 percent higher distrust compared to the NY Times, The Washington Post or MSNBC.

And that has been prior to the overheated 2020 election campaign and the anger over its outcome.

Last year’s firing of CNN anchor Chris Cuomo after he helped his brother, former Democratic NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, behind the scenes, also hurt CNN’s reputation among Republicans, said Carlos Curbelo, a former GOP congressman from Florida.

As Trump attacked the network, CNN returned fire. Under previous leader Jeff Zucker, CNN figures became more opinionated on the air than they ever endured before. Anderson Cooper once likened Trump to an obese turtle on its back, flailing in the hot sun, realizing his time has ended, a remark he later apologized for.

All mainstream media took popular with the ascent of Donald Trump, Costello said. I must say i think he did lots on journalism generally, not only CNN. For a while most of us played involved with it, and our reporting was sort of hysterical.

CNNs tone had a whole lot related to changes in the network’s reputation, said Mark Whitaker, a veteran newsman and former CNN executive. CNN had higher ratings and much more buzz under Zucker, but, Whitaker asked, “Was it worthwhile with regards to just how it changed the brand perception?

Being regarded as a liberal option to Fox News Channel isn’t a concern for a news outlet that plays up partisanship. But also for a company which has sold itself being an unbiased news source for a lot more than 40 years to viewers, to advertisers, to cable or satellite operators that displays an issue.

Since Licht took over, morning anchor Brianna Keilar’s occasional takedowns of Fox coverage have disappeared. Although Licht hasn’t commented publicly on Stelter’s exit, the media reporter’s criticism of Fox was a normal feature of Reliable Sources.

It received little notice at that time, but cable news executive John Malone, now an associate of the Warner Discovery board of directors, said in a CNBC interview last November that I’d like to see CNN evolve back again to the type of journalism it started with, and also have journalists, which may be unique and refreshing.

Similarly, Warner Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav said at an organization town hall in April that CNN should set itself aside from a cable news industry that’s dominated by advocacy networks. CNN must be about reporting, truth and facts, he said.

If we get that, we are able to have a civilized society, said Zaslav, who appointed Licht. And without it, if everything becomes advocacy, we don’t possess a civilized society.

Licht has given few interviews to outside journalists since overtaking, and a CNN spokesman rejected a obtain this short article.

Licht has had steps toward the goals his bosses have elucidated. He wants CNN anchors to be aware of a perspective they sometime talk right down to people. He wants panel discussions to be informative, not dominated by extreme points of view. He really wants to resist outrage porn. He ordered that the on-air breaking news banner be reserved for real breaking news.

Licht also visited Washington to meet up with Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, his counterpart at the home.

Licht wish to see more Republicans appear on CNN for meaningful interviews, definitely not to be utilized by them to seem tough to supporters for taking a stand to hostility. There have been completely small signs of success in recent weeks: appearances by SC Sen. Tim Scott and Texas U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw.

That is true of most three (cable news) networks: When you’re able to get only members of 1 party showing up, it demonstrates your news division is without credibility with essentially half the united states, said Curbelo, an NBC News contributor. It’s early, but Curbelo said he’s got liked what he’s seen with Licht up to now.

The outreach with Republicans has raised some eyebrows, with Democratic strategist Kurt Bardella suggesting in a LA Times column that CNN was wanting to pander to politicians detached from reality. And Eric Deggans, NPR’s television critic, said he’s concerned about the chance of normalizing lies just like the last presidential election was stolen.

Sometimes journalists have already been accused to be partisan when what they’ve really been doing is insisting upon the reality and refusing to go with a political party that’s redefining the reality to serve its ends, Deggans said.

CNN highlights that Licht made an identical pitch to aides at President Joe Biden’s White House, showing demographic information of viewers to illustrate it will be worthwhile to seem for interviews. The network resists suggestions that lies wouldn’t normally be challenged, but said wants all Americans to feel their opinions are paid attention to.

Regardless of what they do, are going to attacked, Whitaker said. Trump among others will continue steadily to cry fake news about anything they don’t really like from the media. But, he said, CNN gets the best potential for any cable news network to attain an audience searching for a more balance in journalism.

Other visible moves will probably come soon. Licht has been eyeing a shakeup of CNN’s early morning and recently hired Ryan Kadro, a former CBS News colleague who handled that network’s morning show. CNN still includes a hole in prime time, too: Chris Cuomo was not replaced since he was fired last December.

But what’s next remains unclear, which Deggans advised against. He called on CNN’s leaders to be clear with viewers about what’s being done. The attitude of the brand new management appears to be, Trust us, we’ve an idea.

David Bauder may be the media writer for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dbauder

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