News and Analysis

‘I Would Like To See CNN Evolve Back To’ Doing News, ‘Actually Have Journalists’: Incoming Top Shareholder
In this photo illustration a CNN logo seen displayed on a smartphone.
Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

CNN should “evolve back” to covering news and “actually having journalists” on the payroll, which would be “new and refreshing,” according to the leading force in the company poised to buy out the ratings-deprived Cable News Network.

Liberty Media Chairman John Malone said “good journalism could have a role” in any company he controls, implying that would require major changes at the nation’s first 24-hour news network.

AT&T announced in May that it would spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery as a new company. The move would combine HBO Max and Discovery Plus, as well as the Food Network, CNN, TNT, TBS, ID, and HGTV. Malone, Discovery’s largest shareholder, would have a definitive role in the company that emerges after the pending merger.

“Is there any place for news in a streaming world?” David Faber asked Malone on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Thursday.

“I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with and, you know, actually have journalists,” Malone replied, adding that the presence of bona fide journalists on CNN “would be unique and refreshing.”

Faber implied that Malone might have to sell CNN rather than reform its commentary-heavy prime time lineup. While CNN will be “part of this company,” Faber noted that numerous other media companies may wish to purchase the cable news network, which was founded by Ted Turner in 1980. “I would assume there’s any number of potential suitors for that property, should … the board decide that it really doesn’t fit,” he said.

Malone seemed reticent. “I think a coward’s way out would be to sell it, or spin it off and then sell it,” he said. Still, he said, offloading the company could be “doable.”

“I do believe that good journalism could have a role in this future portfolio that Discovery/Time Warner is going to represent but, you know, I’m just one, one voice here,” Malone added.

CNN has faced a precipitous ratings decline after its viewership briefly spiked as the network covered breaking developments of the January 6 D.C. riot.

CNN’s primetime ratings in October fell 73% since last October, averaging a meager 661,000 viewers. The drop-off proved steeper among the most coveted demographic, viewers between the ages of 25 and 54. CNN has lost 81% of its viewers in that age bracket.

CNN’s total day viewership has likewise dropped 76% since January. In October, only two programs attracted more than 1 million viewers: a CNN town hall special with President Joe Biden and the “Cuomo Prime Time” that followed it.

Not a single one of CNN’s shows made the top 100 cable broadcasts during the week of November 8.

Malone seems eager to reverse the slide toward outright commentary and embrace of casual on-air profanity embraced by current CNN president David Zucker.

But many of CNN’s low-rated hosts may believe they do not need to reform their ways. As this author previously reported at The Daily Wire, Don Lemon denies that he is either partisan or a commentary host:

“I’m not an opinion host. I give my point of view,” he said, apparently unaware of his self-contradiction.

“Everything I say, every single night, is based in fact,” he insisted. “And if I screw it up, I come back and apologize, and I get it right.”

“That’s what we do here at CNN,” he continued. “That is the big difference between us and networks that don’t have to operate in that realm.”

While Lemon claims he is not a partisan, in September, he said, “There is [only] one political party in this country that is working on reality, and that is the Democratic Party.”

If the merger takes place, the resultant company would be called Warner Bros. Discovery.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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