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It appears that CNN’s left-wing bias will be wiped away when the network is spun off to Discovery later this year, with the new owners’ largest shareholder eager to restore it to impartiality.
This is more likely than ever with Jeff Zucker gone.
Liberty Media, Discovery’s largest shareholder, is headed by John Malone, a billionaire Trump donor. He retains a 25 percent voting interest in Discovery, which is set to take control of WarnerMedia later this year – including CNN.
There is uncertainty about how Discovery CEO David Zaslav wants to lead the network. CNBC’s hosts were shocked when he called it the ‘leader of news to the left’ on Friday morning.
His remark was initially interpreted as an attack on the political left, but he later clarified that he was speaking about the ‘left’ side of its portfolio, with sports on the ‘right’.
Asked about the scandal on CNBC, he refused to respond but said: ‘Jeff is a good friend of mine. I can’t speak to this issue. We don’t own the company yet. In terms of CNN+ we couldn’t be more excited about the fact that they’ve been hiring great journalists.’
Media insiders and CNN staff speculate over why WarnerMedia bosses and AT&T chiefs really wanted his departure since the affair was “open-secret” for years.
The first theory is based on AT&T’s plan to sell WarnerMedia – CNN’s parent company – to Discovery. After years of AT&T’s efforts to spin off its network, the $43 billion deal is almost complete.
Upon consolidation, WarnerMedia and Discovery will be combined into one new media powerhouse – Warner Bros. Discovery. Upon consolidation, Zucker was to be handed a key role within the new company.
Zucker’s most emboldened opponent, Donald Trump, is supported by Malone. Malone’s contribution to Trump’s inauguration was worth $250,000 in 2017 and he has made no secret of the fact that he, like Trump, believes CNN has become overly left-wing and biased.
‘I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,’ he said on CNBC in 2019.
‘I do believe good journalism could have a role in this future portfolio that Discovery-TimeWarner’s going to represent.’
Yesterday, a report from Deadline said Malone was the one who demanded Zucker leave after learning of the affair.
‘Discovery’s largest shareholder, John Malone, a critic of CNN, made it known that corporate procedures had to be followed to the letter in regards to Zucker, we hear,’ the publication reported on Wednesday.
‘Being that WarnerMedia’s standards of business conduct require disclosure of relationships that develop with a boss and subordinate, Zucker’s goose was officially cooked,’ the report continued.
Following the announcement of the impending merger last November, Malone made it clear that he did not like CNN’s direction under Zucker, who assumed the helm in 2013.
CNN’s top talent slammed the top executive of the network’s parent company during an explosive meeting Wednesday, challenging whether or not he had consulted anyone about the decision to replace Jeff Zucker.
The CNN anchor Jake Tapper demanded WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar clarify the perception that Zucker lost his job due to his refusal to pay ‘terrorist’ Chris Cuomo the $18m remaining on his contract.
‘The perception that Chris Cuomo gets fired by CNN. Chris Cuomo hires a high-powered lawyer who has a scorched-earth policy, who then makes it very clear to the world that unless Jeff gives Chris Cuomo his money, they’re going to blow the place up,’ Tapper stated, as revealed in an audio recording of the meeting obtained by Business Insider.
WarnerMedia and AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, were informed of the affair on Wednesday by Chris Cuomo’s legal team. Upon learning of the affair, Zucker resigned immediately.
Fredo took down Zucker! https://t.co/cCV8l1CCo4
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 2, 2022
At first, Zucker wanted to stay on until AT&T’s $43billion bid for Discovery was complete, but Kilar – with whom Zucker has a frosty relationship – insisted he resigns.
According to reports, the affair surfaced as part of an investigation into whether or not Chris Cuomo, who was fired by Zucker in December, should be paid the $18million he had left on his contract. Despite insisting he is entitled to it, Zucker refused to pay up, citing his inappropriate work relationship with his brother as the reason for his firing.
Cuomo, still determined to get his money, has threatened the network with a lawsuit that is based on allegations that both Gollust and Zucker were inappropriately close to his brother Andrew also.
It's well known that @brianstelter & Zucker are close friends. It's also well known that Stelter used his platform at CNN to whitewash the Cuomo scandal for months.
Are we really supposed to believe he didn't know about the affair?
What did Stelter know & when did he know it???
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) February 2, 2022
As a precaution – and to avert a potential scandal – CNN is now rumored to be offering him half of the $18 million.
The news network has become increasingly left-wing in the past few years, and Malone has made no secret of his disdain for it and his desire to ‘restore’ it to its old style of journalism before Discovery acquired it.
At Wednesday night’s meeting in DC, Cuomo’s former colleagues made it clear there was no love lost.