Chris Licht must put the Republicans back on CNN

Chris Licht, CNN’s new president, is settling into one of the toughest jobs in the news, and questions abound as to how he will guide t...


Chris Licht

Chris Licht, CNN’s new president, is settling into one of the toughest jobs in the news, and questions abound as to how he will guide the network out of the extreme turmoil it has faced over the past the last year. A major step in his plan to bring CNN back to the center? Convince Republican officials to return to his airwaves.

The puck Dylan Byer did a good job of glean Licht’s initial vision for CNN, which primarily involved a desire to restore the network’s reputation as a premier venue for proper journalism. It’s a change from the partisan boobies that have become ubiquitous on the network over the past few years. by Jeff Zucker leadership.

After carefully summarizing the current state of cable news – in which MSNBC viewers are led to believe that by Marjorie Taylor Greene the rhetoric represents all Republicans, and Fox News viewers see Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as Democratic flag bearer — Byers Explain what he sees as Licht’s view:

According to people I talk to in and around CNN, Licht sees this opportunity. It aspires to elevate the conversation and provide viewpoints that better reflect the full spectrum of public opinion. And frankly, he wants to make content smarter, a decibel lower, and above boosterism on my end. This kind of grown-up conversational sophistication has been a hallmark of his Morning Joe career, which still features the most insightful political conversation on morning TV, CBS This Morning, and even Colbert. Discerning CNN viewers will notice that he’s already done away with the constant “breaking news” banner, toned down the chyrons, and introduced a much more measured tone to the website’s headlines.

The article’s DEK succinctly lays out the goals and challenges Licht faces: “Of course, an adult stronghold of high-end centrist cable news sounds fantastic, especially since Fox News and MSNBC have totally abdicated the But can it still be done, and will it be evaluated?”

Given Byers’ recent track record on all things CNN, Discovery, and the media personalities involved (seriously, does a reporter have more single-handedly dominated media as massive as Byer on this?), we can take his analysis of Licht’s strategy at face value. It also follows Occam’s Razor by simply making the most sense.

But how should Licht go about executing this strategy? I posit that the first step to reclaiming the center is to convince elected Republicans to return to the airwaves of CNN for meaningful, policy-based interviews. And yes, I am fully aware that this idea will bring much grief to Daily show writer Matt Negrinwhich is a vocal critic of what he sees as a media bias that favors the Republican platform. (Sidenote? Negrin’s Sorrow is a terrific name for a podcast, Matt.)

Yes, booking politicians from either party presents its own challenges, as most politicians are really good at not telling the truth. Exposing blatant disinformation presented by an elected official is not only good television, but also good for the country in general.

Not so long ago, CNN viewers regularly saw in-depth interviews between Republican lawmakers and newscasters asking tough questions. the Chris CuomoAlisyn Camerota era of New day benefited from excellent reservations and interesting discussions.

Reservations have not always been successful. Other CNN programs were looser, contenting themselves with the ideas of the Washington Generals of cable news, Jeffrey Lord (do you remember him ?)

But then donald trump effectively called for a jihad against CNN, stoking a rivalry fueled in part by the network’s full-throated and relentless anti-Trump coverage (coverage that wasn’t unwarranted, it’s worth adding!) The conflict is got so heated that a Trump supporter homemade bombs sent by post (or fake pipe bombs) to the talents of CNN, among others. Things were beyond ugly. Before long, Republican officials stopped showing up on CNN altogether, save for a few Never-Trumpers eager to deliver the same message as everyone else on the network.

To illustrate the evolution of CNN’s expertise, take a look at who has been booked to provide a conservative voice in recent years, and where they are now. Can anyone really say that, for example, Ana Navarre is a Republican? This perhaps says more about how the Republican Party has evolved under Trump, but it also reveals one of the many challenges Licht faces.

Broadly speaking, Licht’s goals are twofold: 1) Restore CNN’s reputation as a centrist news-based media outlet with people from all political backgrounds; and 2) restore its appeal to the right and centre-right, which have completely abandoned it.

It’s not exactly the same considering what MAGA has done to the Republican Party and the fact that most of the mainstream press views Fox News as far right and therefore most Republicans . Furthermore, restoring access to the law (Goal 2) could very well undermine CNN’s credibility with a wider set of viewers (Goal 1.)

The path to follow ? 1) Book non-extremist Republican and Democratic officials and 2) Prepare knowledgeable anchors to fend off false or misleading rhetoric. If anyone is willing to push that boulder up the mountain, it’s Licht.

A successful ancestor of the cable information model I describe is morning joe, MSNBC’s morning show Licht launched many moons ago. East morning joe centrist? It depends on who judges his politics, to be frank, but it’s more in the middle than almost any other show of equal influence.

So why exactly will CNN benefit from booking non-extremist Republican voices on its airwaves? Because viewers desperately need to hear opposing points of view in order to penetrate the partisan bubbles in which so many people live, hermetically sealed by the regularly consumed opinion programs. The vast majority of Democrats and Republicans aren’t extremist lunatics, and CNN can reintroduce civil discourse that can ideally heal a wounded body politic.

There is reason to wonder if Licht can actually achieve this. He was also instructed to turn around CBS this morning, and while it has made significant improvements, the show remains comfortably in third place. The company was such a huge lift that I’m sure Licht was thrilled to get off that ride to join The late show with Stephane Colbert as showrunner. He also created, with Colbert and others, Our Cartoon Presidentwho, quality aside, could be a difficult part of his resume for future Republican guests.

All this to say that cable news desperately needs to return to panel discussions that explore issues from different angles, instead of preaching to an increasingly furious choir. Dayside Fox News programming might just be the best network to have guests across the aisle on its airwaves, largely because no Republicans will go on CNN and MSNBC has no interest in talk with them.

Licht’s stated desire to reclaim the center of kitchen table issues may be a tough sell, and it may not even be valued.

CNN makes about a billion in profits every year, so if that level of revenue can be sustained while its programming works to restore its reputation across the political spectrum? It would be a huge win, regardless of the ratings. And let’s not forget that journalism was never meant to be entertainment.

This would not only be a victory for CNN and Licht, but also for the body politic.

This is an opinion piece. The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.



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