“Most trusted name in news.”
This is the reputation the new President of CNN, Chris Licht, is trying to restore.
Licht’s gutsy move to have former President Donald J. Trump in a town hall forum in New Hampshire caused the Left to lose its mind, but it is a step in the right direction.
After years of scandals engulfing CNN, deep declines in ratings and hatred of Trump driving its programming, Licht is trying to right the wrongs that have ruined CNN’s brand.
Whether you love him or hate him, Donald Trump is newsworthy, not only as the former President of the United States, but because he is leading the Republican presidential field. And Licht is making the daring choice to believe that Americans can watch a broadcast and decide for themselves whether to believe what he says or how he says it.
But is it possible for this network whose anchors and reporters frequently refer to Trump as a “liar” an “election denier” and a “disgrace” to put the genie back in the bottle?
While some of its staff has complained, host Jake Tapper must have taken note, as he admitted that Trump has been exonerated of Russian collusion in the 2016 election with the release of the Department of Justice’s Durham Report on Monday.
Now if Tapper and his colleagues could look in the mirror and see how much they contributed to the lie of “Russian collusion” we’d really be getting somewhere.
For news junkies, it has been sad to see the network giant that created 24-hour cable coverage more than 40 years ago decline in recent years. CNN was the first on the scene in the gulf wars, they were the first network to report on the 9/11 attacks with trusted, talented reporters. Bernard Shaw, CNN’s original anchor, who recently passed away, was the calm and steady presence through many international and domestic crises. Their coverage of the war between Russia and Ukraine has been stellar with correspondent Clarissa Ward, who is fluent in Russian, reporting on the ground and former Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty giving perspective. Their coverage of King Charles’ coronation last weekend is what the network is known for – covering the world.
Yet, for years the brilliant news coverage from around the world that had been CNN’s forte was replaced with condescending pundits and opinionators posing as journalists and reporters. Instead of reporting the news, CNN’s on-air talent inserted itself into it, with arrogant anchors constantly berating half the country for supporting Trump or for simply being a Republican.
Gossip, innuendo and name calling is not news, nor is it fun to watch.
Licht’s vision for CNN, according to one interview, is one where all viewpoints “feel comfortable coming on and appearing on CNN … So, if you invite someone into your house, you want to make them comfortable.”
To CNN’s credit, the panel discussion following the town hall also included Republican Congressman Byron Donalds who held his own against five Trump haters that included host Anderson Cooper.
Indeed, CNN has recently welcomed conservatives to its air like Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and Kentucky Rep. James Comer. I’ve always recommended my clients and candidates go on the network even though they will be in hostile territory.
Licht fired Don Lemon from the network last month and last year, he fired a “reporter’ whose only job was to bash conservatives and particularly radio talk show hosts. At the time of his passing more than two years ago, Rush Limbaugh had more than 21 million listeners a day. That is a 97% bigger audience than CNN in its highest moment.
Yet, the mentality has been to constantly excoriate the Limbaugh listeners in the country. How comfortable is any conservative watching a network where they are belittled and ridiculed?
CNN may call it analysis, but if their hosts and analysts are giving their opinions then they can’t be trusted at giving us news.
This is apparently the message Licht is trying to convey to the talent backed by CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery whose vision is to have a facts-only based news network.
Contributors who understand conservatives, evangelicals, libertarians, the ones that love Gov. Ron DeSantis, Rep. Jim Jordan and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas would be a great addition.
Remember the amazing programs like Crossfire and Capitol Gang that were balanced with the brilliant Pat Buchanan, the tenacious Robert Novak and the indefatigable Kate O’Bierne on the right? These were serious, movement conservatives, intellectuals who brought deep rooted philosophical arguments to the table. Remember when Kellyanne Conway was a CNN analyst and Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck were hosts on the network?
Restoring trust will be understanding that Americans don’t want condescending journalists giving their opinions but allowing us to decide from the information we’ve been given by them.
Diana Banister is a messaging and communications strategist and a daily CNN viewer.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.