Financial TimesFinancial Times

CNN wants to stay neutral in a divided America. Will anyone watch?

By Alex Barker, Anna Nicolaou and Christopher Grimes

21 Nov 2022 · 11 min read

Editor's Note

CNN is abandoning the left-leaning advocacy it embraced in the Trump years in favor of journalism basics. But do Americans want this? As FT reports, it’s not just the network’s fate that’s at stake.

Barely six months into his new job, CNN chief executive Chris Licht strode into a sunlit conference room to make his pitch to rescue America’s first 24-hour news channel from a serious mid-life funk. It was mid-October and around the table was perhaps Licht’s single most important audience: the board of his parent company Warner Bros Discovery, gathered in a luxury Los Angeles hotel for the first strategy “retreat” for the merged company.

Warner’s restless chief executive David Zaslav was in the room, along with his mentor John Malone, the libertarian cable billionaire and one-time Trump donor, and Warner’s biggest shareholder Steve Newhouse, the scion of the media dynasty behind Condé Nast. Between them these three men had a century of experience in the cable business — and no shortage of views on what was best for CNN.

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