CNN may be preparing to offload some of its more overtly partisan talent in a renewed effort to promote itself as a straight and unbiased news network.
According to a report from Axios, new CNN chief Chris Licht is “evaluating” the network’s stable of on-air talent, ostensibly to determine who will fit with programming tailored to be less partisan.
“CNN’s new boss, Chris Licht, is evaluating whether personalities and programming that grew polarizing during the Trump era can adapt to the network’s new priority to be less partisan,” Axios reported, adding that sources indicated jobs could be on the chopping block in the wake of those evaluations. “If talent cannot adjust to a less partisan tone and strategy, they could be ousted.”
Axios also noted that Licht appears ready to give current employees and on-air talent some room to prove that they can adapt to a less combative presentation, encouraging them to engage in thoughtful interviews with people on both sides of the aisle — something that got progressively rarer leading up to and during former President Donald Trump’s time in office.
And while former CNN head Jeff Zucker — who resigned after admitting to an undisclosed relationship — appeared to encourage a more partisan presentation, Licht has made it clear that he sees the network going in a completely different direction.
Toward that end, The New York Times reported on Sunday, the network plans to do away with snarky, partisan chyrons — and a much lighter touch on the “Breaking News” banner.
“CNN’s ubiquitous ‘Breaking News’ banner is gone, now reserved for instances of truly urgent events,” the NYT reported. “Snarky onscreen captions … are discouraged. Political shows are trying to book more conservative voices, and producers have been urged to ignore Twitter backlash from the far right and the far left.”
The Times also noted that Licht, whose last job was with “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” had jumped from the frying pan into the fire when he moved from managing a show that employed approximately 200 people to a major global network that employed around 4000 — and the report claimed that “some CNN journalists say they wonder if he can navigate a sprawling, unwieldy global news network past what has been a no good, very bad year.”
In addition to Zucker’s departure — which was followed closely by that of his paramour, Allison Gollust — CNN is fresh off the failed launch of fledgling streaming service CNN+. The network also fired one of its top prime time hosts — Chris Cuomo — amid allegations of sexual misconduct and the admission that he had advised his brother, former Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), while he dealt with his own sexual harassment and assault allegations.