CNN is responding to a scandal-laden year by attempting to shed its image as the official cable news network of the #Resistance against Donald Trump, but critics remain skeptical.
Restoring media credibility doesn’t happen overnight.
WHAT CNN IS DOING
Amid a series of controversies and embarrassments – including the ouster of former president Jeff Zucker, firing of star host Chris Cuomo, and the implosion of its flagship video streaming service – CNN’s new leadership has shown signs of wanting to move the network back to its hard news roots and away from the sensational, partisan coverage that defined it in the Zucker era.
- Fueled by aggressively negative Trump coverage, CNN’s ratings hit record peaks during the former president’s tenure, only to come crashing down once he left office.
- “The next chapter in CNN is one where we aspire to be a beacon for the kind of journalism essential to a functioning democracy,” new CNN president Chris Licht, who took over for Zucker earlier this month, told attendees at a presentation Wednesday for the network’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery. “At a time where extremes are dominating cable news, we will seek to go a different way reflecting the real lives of our viewers and elevating the way America and the world views this medium.”
- The new CNN chief, echoing comments he made earlier this month emphasizing the importance of “regaining” viewers’ trust, explicitly disavowed partisanship, saying the network intends to start holding “leaders on both sides of the aisle” accountable.
Another indication of CNN’s nod to more balanced coverage was Licht’s announcement that former Fox News host Chris Wallace would be getting his own Sunday show on the network.
HOW PEOPLE ARE REACTING
CNN’s attempted rebrand has been met with plenty of skepticism, especially surrounding certain employees’ potential conflicts of interest with the Biden administration.
- As the conservative website American Wire noted this week, the White House’s freshly minted press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, lives with CNN national correspondent Suzanne Malveaux, with whom she has a 7-year-old daughter.
- “The number of conservative viewers willing to give CNN a second or third chance is minimal,” Bobby Burack, a writer for the conservative sports blog Outkick, wrote last week.
- Americans’ trust in mass media has been plummeting for years, but the phenomenon is especially pronounced among supporters of the GOP.
A Gallup poll released in October found that only 11% of Republicans say they trust the media a great deal or fair amount.