New CNN CEO sets new direction for network – does he really get it?


Could it be that CNN is finally starting to understand? Stranger things have happened, but then again we live in strange times.

On Tuesday, CNN Worldwide’s new chairman and CEO, Chris Licht, held a company-wide Q&A session alongside CNN host Alisyn Camerota.

Much was discussed, including looming budget cuts and layoffs. But one topic was particularly interesting: the network’s coverage of former President Donald Trump, who announced a 2024 bid for the White House on Tuesday.

At least initially, Licht, who took over the network’s operations, seems to want to move away from the sensational, all-Trump coverage favored by his predecessor Jeff Zucker.

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Slow change

Licht said, in what could be groundbreaking rhetoric for CNN, “we have to be different than before.”

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The recordings and tone of Licht are already a huge change from what we’ve seen in the last 7 years. He added that the network cannot allow the craziness to consume us and they should not fall for the outrageous porn.

Now, if Light can apply that same attitude to all news, not just Trump, we might actually have something: current news.

Chris Licht may seem like a breath of fresh air for the ratings-challenged network, but he’s been in the news arena for a while now. Prior to taking over at CNN, he served as Executive Vice President of Special Programming at TBEN from 2016.

Because of that time spent in the media bubble, as Licht explained his take on Donald Trump’s media strategy, he couldn’t help but inject a little bit of snark into what would otherwise have been a fairly sensible explanation.

He stated: “Part of his (Trump) strategy is to make sure everything he does gets a lot of attention so that when he slips into something that has real consequences, like a coup, it feels like noise. And I don’t want us to give in to that.”

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That goes both ways, of course. Portion of the medias strategy is to make sure every breath he takes gets attention, even negative attention.

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Not there yet

While all the other major networks didn’t cover Trump’s 2024 announcement, CNN did the first 25 minutes.

And if you were expecting instant changes, whatever Light has in mind, it will take some time.

The post-speech panel did include two former Trump administration aides, but it was a sleight of hand. Former acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and director of strategic communications and aide to President Alyssa Farah Griffin are notably vocal critics of Trump.

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Any significant change happens slowly. But CNN loyalists aren’t happy with Chris Licht or his new take on their beloved network.

Some viewers feel that Licht has gone a little too well for their tastes.

And some feel that CNN isn’t as reliable as it used to be.

Good luck Mr Light. The change you seek may be a bit like herding cats.

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