Following the departure of CNN president Jeffrey Zucker, the network’s new owners are planning a shake-up that should leave CNN’s opinion hosts feeling “concerned” and “nervous” about their future, a guest told Brian Stelter on Sunday. During the exchange, Stelter said that CNN personalities found calls from incoming shareholders for the network to return to unbiased news “offensive” and “disturbing.”
Zucker’s resignation came as CNN is pending a sale that will put the cable news network under the control of Discovery CEO David Zaslav — and which could require CNN to give up much of its left-of-center commentary in favor of straight news reporting. “I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with and, you know, actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,” Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, who would be a key stockholder if the CNN-Discovery merger goes through, told CNBC last November.
“Many CNN staffers found that to be offensive,” said Stelter. “Jeff Zucker found that to be quite disturbing, because he’s looking at that thinking, what is Discovery’s key shareholder going to do to CNN.” Zucker, who took the helm in 2012, directed CNN’s emergence into an openly liberal, anti-Trump network and encouraged hosts to vent their political views.
"I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists," claimed John Malone, the top shareholder of Discovery, which is poised to take over the network. pic.twitter.com/QnNhQwgBY0
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) November 19, 2021
Stelter’s guest, Ken Auletta, who writes for The New Yorker, added that Malone has criticized CNN for “too much advocacy, too much commentary, too little reporting from the world. There’s some merit to that. I mean, CNN had always talked about how we cover the world like no one else … Well, they don’t do it.”
“If I was at CNN and I was an employee and I loved working under Jeff Zucker, for understandable reasons, I would be concerned,” said Auletta.
“There’s no question that David Zaslav, as he said to me in November at a public forum, believes that there’s too much commentary on CNN,” Auletta continued. “And if you watch CNN, the anchors are much more animated with opinions than they were when Ted Turner started the network back some three decades ago.”
“True,” replied host Brian Stelter, nodding.
“And so I would be a little nervous if I was at CNN, yes,” replied Auletta.
The exchange came just days after The Daily Mail reported that a CNN insider said, “The network needs to step up and fire Brian Stelter.” The unnamed network personality added, if Stelter “wants to say he didn’t know” about Zucker’s affair with CNN Executive Vice President Allison Gollust, “he is truly terrible at his job.”
Stelter, who dedicated much of his program to Zucker’s departure, revealed he may be far from the only one who should be anxious about his job security if the incoming owners want the network to stick to the facts. In the wake of Zucker’s resignation, Stelter said, “Staffers are angry. They’re angry at Warner Media. They’re angry at [Chris] Cuomo, and they’re wondering what happens now.”
“I’m told by sources that Discovery views this as a fresh start for CNN. And maybe in a year, people will look back and say this was a good thing for CNN,” Stelter said. “But it’s not what the staffers here wanted — and certainly not like this.”
Stelter tried to downplay Malone’s role in the future company, saying he “will just be one member of the board along with 12 or 13 or 14 others. So, should CNN anchors and reporters be concerned about John Malone’s views of CNN?”
Auletta immediately rebuffed Stelter, saying, “Well, of course.”
Auletta’s analysis seemed to echo the words of John Stankey, the CEO of AT&T, which presently owns CNN.
“Jeff had a tremendous following within CNN, and there’s a lot of people who were incredibly loyal and supportive of him,” Stankey said on Friday. “That makes it hard for those individuals.”
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.