I have great news for CNN. Thanks to a wildly critical profile of CNN chief executive Chris Licht, the network’s boss is out and EVERYONE is talking about the struggling news network!
The Atlantic ran a 15,000-word piece on Licht under the headline “Inside the Meltdown at CNN,” and it prompted not just off-the-record criticisms from CNN staff but headline after headline about the network’s internal drama:.
“Chris Licht pledges to regain trust of CNN staff after scathing article,” wrote The Washington Post.
“Chris Licht of CNN Faces a Crisis,” wrote The New York Times.
Fox News got in on the action with “Mission Impossible: Why media are pummeling CNN’s Chris Licht.”.
Hey, at least The Atlantic’s Chris Licht profile has people talking about CNN again!
Wednesday morning, Licht stepped down, leaving the network with a void in its top leadership position.
On the plus side, this is the most public attention CNN has had in months, and it helped me come up with a simple plan to help the once-mighty network: CNN should rebrand itself as the No. 1 source for news about what a mess CNN has become.
It’s clear there’s both an audience and a thirst for coverage of CNN drama. Heck, entire crowds at Trump rallies have broken into chants of “CNN SUCKS!”.
So why not lean into that? Why let other news organizations rake in ratings and page views with their coverage of a network trying – and failing – to redefine itself?
CNN’s hopeless quest for middle ground seems to make everyone angry
Aside from Licht, who according to The Atlantic profile and other reports seemed simultaneously overconfident and in over his head, CNN has been struggling with staking out an identity between the left-leaning MSNBC and far-right-leaning Fox News.
That explains the network’s willingness to host a town hall that allowed former President Donald Trump, now a GOP presidential candidate, to lie and lie and lie some more in prime time while also lambasting the media, including CNN itself. It was an embarrassment, hated by both the left and right and people at the network.
Please explain where there’s middle ground between believing in facts and believing in nonsense
That’s the problem with seeking a middle ground in this political climate: What is the middle ground between “the 2020 presidential election was legitimate” and “the 2020 presidential election was rigged and stolen by a liberal Deep State hellbent on destroying America”?
Where exactly is the middle ground between “LGBTQ+ people exist and should be able to live their lives safely and authentically” and “A DISNEY MOVIE HAD A GAY CHARACTER SO I’M GOING TO LABEL THE WHOLE CORPORATION AND ANYONE WHO SUPPORTS IT A PEDOPHILE”?
CNN could try to find a rational space between conservative voters who reject the hardcore-MAGA conspiracy/culture war nonsense and liberal-minded viewers seeking balance. But that doesn’t seem to be in the network’s plans. Instead, it keeps trying to get the people who chant “CNN SUCKS!” To like it, like a lonely kid hoping a handful of bologna will get the dog to love him.
It’s time for CNN to lean into its own soap opera and give people what they want
The most compelling thing about CNN right now is the reality-show-style mess CNN has created. So THAT’S where the network’s bosses need to focus their attention. All CNN, all the time. They’ve got reporters right there in the studio! Let them do their jobs and give the people what they want.
Anderson Cooper’s nightly show “Anderson Cooper 360°” could be renamed “Anderson Cooper 180°.” It would feature Cooper spinning around 180-degrees and looking to see what kind of zaniness and absurd miscalculations are happening in the studio behind him.
Maybe CNN could bring back Chris Cuomo and Jeff Zucker for some insight
“CNN Tonight” could keep its name, as it would focus on what new mess CNN finds itself in each night. Fired CNN host Chris Cuomo could be rehired to host, perhaps alongside former network head Jeff Zucker, who was forced to step down last year for not revealing a romantic relationship with another senior executive.
And Wolf Blitzer’s “The Situation Room” could be called “A Room Full of Situations at CNN,” featuring Blitzer thoughtfully caressing his beard while recounting the poor decisions being made around him.
Instead of being “The World’s News Leader,” CNN can become “The World’s News-About-CNN Leader.”.
Think about it, Mr. Licht and Co. When ratings and public opinion are handing you (Don) lemons, you might as well squirt them in your own eyes.
Follow USA TODAY columnist Rex Huppke on Twitter @RexHuppke and Facebook facebook.Com/RexIsAJerk.
More from Rex Huppke:.
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Joe Biden is definitely going to prison! As soon as the GOP finds its missing informant.
Would today’s GOP try to ban Mister Rogers for being woke? Probably.
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