CNN’s Chris Licht Told Producers To ‘Downplay’ The Jan 6. Hearings. Here’s How That Went For The Network

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Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
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After just a few weeks on the job, CNN President Chris Licht directed producers to downplay the first hearing of the Jan. 6 committee, according to a profile published Friday in The Atlantic.

The profile described how CNN’s rank and file were excited by Licht’s arrival to the network, but one of the first things to go sideways under his tenure was the decision to downplay the Capitol riot hearings, The Atlantic reported. MSNBC treated the hearings “like a prime-time special” that earned the network enormous ratings, which “infuriated CNN staff,” per the profile.

Deciding not to focus on the hearings evidently led CNN staff to question Licht’s motives and what his superiors, such as major shareholder John Malone and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, wanted  from the network’s future. Licht reportedly expressed regret at his decision, but the decision appears to have made it incredibly difficult for Licht to do a good job with CNN.

The profile reads as if Licht’s decision led journalists and others at CNN to believe that he was endorsing former President Donald Trump’s attacks on the network. What started as a wariness of Licht eventually developed into strife as a result of this single decision, which led to a snowball effect of crap. (RELATED: Only One Man Can Save CNN)

Tim Alberta, who wrote the Atlantic profile, described Licht’s decision to avoid the hearings as “botched,” and said it led Licht to spend more time out of sight. “Top talent began to turn on Licht,” Alberta noted. When pushed about these concerns, Licht apparently shrugged it all off, even when he faced accusations of turning CNN into “Fox News Lite.”

It’s hard to pin-point the moment when CNN started to nose-dive, but it definitely started well before Licht’s takeover. Can the decision for him to avoid the Jan. 6 hearings really be blamed for every issue at the network from then on? Almost definitely not. We wouldn’t have blamed the iceberg for sinking the Titanic if there was a massive hole in the side before it hit, and that’s the first and only analogy I’ll be giving on this matter.