CNN’s Brian Stelter is canceled
It almost seemed inevitable after CNN was purchased by media mogul David Zaslav – whose media empire is the Warner/Discovery conglomerate. Controversial media critic Brian Stelter would be shown the door.
It was widely rumored that the new owners believed that CNN’s plunge in viewership was due to becoming to politicized – tracking too far to the left. Reports state that John Malone – a major investor in Warner/Discovery — was a significant influence in changing the direction of CNN.
As one of the more strident left-wing voices on CNN, there was immediate conjecture in the industry that Stelter would be booted. It comes as no surprise.
In addition to firing Stelter, CNN management cancelled his show, “Reliable Sources” –at least for the time being. That leaves FOX News’ “Media Buzz” with Howard Kurtz as the only show on cable news focused on critiquing the media.
The canning of Stelter is not the end of changes at CNN. CEO Chris Licht told staffers that there would be more to come as the network tries to turn around its freefall ratings by moving reporting away from the doctrinaire left. That will not be swift or an easy job since the lean to the far left is fully integrated without the workforce – and still popular among some remaining viewers.
Zaslav, Malone and Licht avoid using philosophic terms to explain their new policies. Rather they call it “a return to traditional journalism.”
Some of the anchors, producers and guests have shown evidence of the shift. There are more stories and more guests who represent a more conservative viewpoint. Some, however, may not be able to adjust – and they will have to go if the new management is to be successful in repositioning the network.
If Licht were to ask my advice – and he will not – I would tell him that he needs a new lineup for the morning show to compete with both MSNBC on the far far left and FOX on the right. The surly Jim Acosta and the whiny Don Lemon would also have to go. There are others.
How to restructure the networks depends on whether CNN’s best shot is taking viewers from FOX or MSNBC. Maybe both.
Obviously, a shift to the right would have more appeal among conservative and independent views. But there is anecdotal evidence that MSNBC is losing those on the not-so-far left. I have an increasing number of liberal friends who have abandoned MSNBC because of the constant drum beating on a few narrow one-sided issues. Moving to CNN would be an easier jump than to FOX.
CNN dumped its superstar Chris Cuomo – ostensibly over integrity and accusations of inappropriate behavior. But there also seemed to be an unspoken desire by the new management to drop him for other reasons.
Stelter is the first major casualty of the new regime at CNN – but not likely to be the last. And that is a good thing.
So, there ‘tis.