Patterico's Pontifications


More Sturm und Drang at CNN

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:33 pm

[guest post by JVW]

Things at the Cable News Network (you never hear anybody use the full name any longer, do you?) have gone from bad, to really bad, to worse. Even after the network cleared out its stables of much of the idiotic and deadweight “talent” that they were putting on screens every night, CNN remains mired in low ratings, regularly getting clobbered by Fox and MSNBC, but incredibly enough also losing to Newsmax in some important timeslots. The network which pioneered the cable news format has been riven by a huge internal debate as to whether to continue as an ideologically-driven opinion outlet, which served it reasonably well — financially if not reputationally — during the Trump years though also makes it most vulnerable to competitors, or to return to more of a straight news reporting site (even one that leans somewhat to the left), a strategy which theoretically would broaden its appeal but which perhaps has become passé in these divided times.

The CEO who replaced the horrid Jeff Zucker chose a strategy of broadening the network’s appeal, and he has been shown the door

Chris Licht is out as CNN CEO after growing criticism over the network’s Donald Trump town hall as well as the release of an Atlantic profile that did not go over well with staffers.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav had defended Licht’s efforts to move the network away from the oppositional stance it adopted toward Republicans in the Trump era, but the outgoing CEO appears to have lost Zaslav’s support after the publication of a biting Atlantic profile by Tim Alberta, in which Licht was quoted disparaging CNN’s Trump era journalism.

[. . .]

In his attempt to reshape the network, Licht promised a reset with Republican voters. Part of that was to hear from the Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in an event moderated by host Kaitlan Collins. He also moved Collins, a former writer for the conservative publication the Daily Caller, to a primetime show from her previous post on CNN This Morning.

It was probably too much too soon for a bunch of snowflake lefty journalists to bear, but Mr. Licht will at least go down in history as the guy who got rid of some of the most obnoxious names in cable media:

The CNN chief articulated a “facts-only approach,” trying to steal viewers from Fox News and MSNBC by pursuing aggressive nonpartisan reporting. Licht fired “off mission” staffers like John Harwood and Brian Stelter.

Don Lemon would have been axed early on as well if he wasn’t one of the lone black voices at the network, the Atlantic reported. The controversial host was ultimately fired after a sexist comment toward presidential Nikki Haley as well as the release of a Variety exposé.

Watch the new CEO hire all of them back. (Actually that probably won’t happen since all of them come with grossly inflated salaries that the struggling network probably doesn’t want to pay.) For his part, Mr. Licht claimed that he wasn’t seeking to purge a center-left orientation to the network so much as he was trying to dial-back a drift towards elite cultural sensibilities. One way of looking at it is that he wanted the network to be more like Joe Biden as a candidate in 2020, not like Joe Biden as President the past two-and-a-half years. That seems to me to be very sound advice, and it will be interesting to see if the new boss heeds it or if the network inevitably returns to the bad old days of shrill faculty lounge leftism.


Mike Pence and Chris Christie Make It Official

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:29 am

[guest post by Dana]

Mike Pence has officially launched his bid for the presidency:

Unfortunately for Pence, the Republican Party doesn’t seem terribly interested in his brand of conservatism, at least if it doesn’t come with clenched fists ready to brawl. However, this transition of the Party didn’t happen without Pence’s own willingness to avert his eyes:

Mr. Pence served as Mr. Trump’s yes-man for three years and 11 months. In that final month, Mr. Pence refused to follow a presidential order that was plainly unconstitutional: to single-handedly overturn the 2020 election. His loyalty to the Constitution was rewarded with people in a pro-Trump mob chanting “Hang Mike Pence” as they stormed the Capitol, while Mr. Pence and his family rushed to a barely secure room.

Instead of punishing Mr. Trump for how he treated Mr. Pence, Republican voters have made him their front-runner. More than 50 percent of Republicans support the former president in national polls. Mr. Pence draws around 4 percent. Even in heavily evangelical Iowa, where Mr. Pence is staking his candidacy, he polls around 5 percent.

But it’s not just Mr. Pence’s anti-populist policies that hobble him. It’s that Republican voters have sharply different expectations of their leaders than they did during Mr. Pence’s political rise as a member of Congress and then governor of Indiana.

For the past seven years, Mr. Trump has trained Republican voters to value a different set of virtues in their candidates. He has trained them to value Republicans who fight hard and dirty, using whatever tactics are necessary to vanquish their opponents. He has also trained them to avert their gazes from behaviors that were once considered disqualifying.

For four years, Mr. Pence, too, averted his gaze. He stuck with Mr. Trump through numerous controversies including the leak of the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr. Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitalia. He vouched for Mr. Trump’s character with skeptical evangelicals with whom Mr. Trump ultimately forged his own relationship.

When Mr. Trump, as president, showered praise on the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, his vice president, bound by loyalty, stayed silent. Yet recently on the campaign trail, after Mr. Trump had congratulated Mr. Kim for his country’s readmission to the World Health Organization’s executive board, Mr. Pence scolded his former boss for “praising the dictator in North Korea.”

Mr. Pence may finally feel liberated to tell voters what he really thinks about Mr. Trump. His problem is that most Republicans don’t want to hear it.

(emphasis added)

Meanwhile, Chris Christie has also entered the race. The once-Trump ally seems convinced that he alone is the candidate that will take down Trump:

As he said in New Hampshire on Tuesday (a state in which Trump easily beat his opponent in 2020…):

“I can’t guarantee you success in what I’m about to do. But I guarantee you that at the end of it, you will have no doubt in my mind who I am and what I stand for and whether I deserve it,” Christie said, partially referencing a letter from founding father John Adams to his wife Abigail Adams. “That’s why I came back to New Hampshire to tell all of you that I intend to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States in 2024.”

He then name-checked Trump:

Christie said other Republican candidates are treating Trump like the Harry Potter villain Voldemort, tip-toeing around criticizing him by name.

“Let me be clear, in case I have not been already,” Christie said after bashing Trump. “The person I am talking about — who is obsessed with the mirror, who never admits a mistake, who never admits a fault and who always finds someone else and something else to blame for whatever goes wrong, but finds every reason to take credit for anything that goes right — is Donald Trump.”


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