CNN will follow a different path than the “extremes” that have dominated the cable news industry, new president Chris Licht pledged at the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront on Wednesday.
Licht spoke at the presentation alongside Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, extolling the journalism produced by the network — particularly in Ukraine — and outlining their visions for CNN and its role within the newly-merged media conglomerate.
Zaslav explained that CNN will be organized “to advocate for journalism first” and provide for audiences “seeking more accurate information and less yelling and conflict.”
Licht offered similar aspirations as he outlined his intent for CNN to double-down on what you might call sane news.
“Now, the next chapter of CNN is one where we aspire to be a beacon for the kind of journalism essential to a functioning democracy,” Licht said. “In a time where extremes are dominating cable news, we will seek to go a different way — reflecting the real lives of our viewers and elevating the way America and the world views this medium.”
He also pledged to “challenge the traditional philosophy of cable news, delivering programming and commentary that questions the status quo, shatters group-think, holds our leaders on both sides of the aisle accountable to facts, and fights fearlessly to get to the truth.”
Licht also said the network will seek to “reimagine” morning show New Day, which has struggled in the ratings, with an eye toward challenging the big-audience broadcast morning shows.
“I’m going to be honest: we are seeking to be a disrupter of the broadcast morning shows in this space and we believe we can do it,” he said.
Licht also announced Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?, the Chris Wallace interview program that launched on the ill-fated streaming platform CNN+, will be headed to HBO Max and air on CNN’s linear network on Sunday evenings.
Beyond the collapse of CNN+ and the linear network’s ratings struggles, Licht is still picking up the pieces from the chaotic ouster of longtime CNN chief Jeff Zucker.
The departure of Zucker marked the end of a turbulent year for CNN, which also saw the network go from a massive ratings high to a troublesome low. The network also lost its top-rated anchor Chris Cuomo amid a scandal over his role in helping his brother, then-Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), respond to sexual misconduct allegations — as well as one of his own.
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