CNN is in the midst of a “sorry state of affairs” as the network faces looming leadership changes, struggling ratings and “the embarrassing launch of a suboptimal product,” according to a former producer as watchdogs ponder if the new regime can restore the network’s reputation.
It’s a much-publicized period of transition for CNN, as parent company WarnerMedia will finally close a long-planned merger with Discovery in the next few weeks. Former CNN boss Jeff Zucker is long gone after being forced to step aside and his replacement, Chris Licht, isn’t expected to overtake control of the network until at least April 11. Meanwhile, high-powered Discovery CEO David Zaslav will oversee the new Warner Bros. Discovery, which will serve as CNN’s parent company once the merger is complete.
Staffers are in the dark about what changes Licht and Zaslav will make, but the duo is expected to shake things up in some capacity. Far-left opinion programming that was prominent during the Zucker regime is likely to be tossed aside in favor of straight news, and some feel changes already need to be made to streaming service CNN+ because it’s “set up to fail” despite just launching this week.
A longtime media industry executive who previously worked as a producer for CNN told Fox News Digital that damage Zucker did to the brand is “deep and permanent” after the former executive pushed the once-non-partisan network to the left.
“It’s a sorry state of affairs that when CNN should be shining for its Ukraine coverage, it instead is mired in the embarrassing launch of a suboptimal product like CNN+. Ratings are terrible despite the once-in-a-decade war news that CNN is supposedly made for. We’re now seeing the deep and permanent damage Jeff Zucker did to the once storied CNN brand when he pulled it far left and made it about himself vs Trump,” the media insider said. “Viewers don’t turn to CNN for serious news anymore.”
In an attempt to restore CNN’s credibility, Licht is expected to attempt to pivot back to straight news after Zucker allowed the network to take on a partisan, liberal approach that has struggled to attract viewers during the Biden era.
On Tuesday, ratings for the first quarter of 2022 were unveiled and CNN’s most-watched show was “Anderson Cooper 360,” which averaged one million nightly viewers to settle for No. 22 among cable news programs.