OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
CNN+ was pulled from air last month only three weeks after it launched, despite investing $300 million.
Fox News defector Chris Wallace, who reportedly makes $9 million annually, joined the doomed streaming news service to pursue a lucrative job and get away from Tucker Carlson. It was unknown what his fate at Warner Bros Discovery would be.
While other talent featured on CNN+ remains a mystery, including food industry star Roman, former NPR host Audie Cornish, former NBC hosts Kasie Hunt and Jemele Hill, and sports commentators Rex Chapman and Jemele Hill.
The first day of official work for new CNN boss Chris Licht was Monday. Licht has already hinted that he will move CNN away from opinion-led shows that have dominated the network in recent years.
In a memo on his first day, Licht said that the emphasis should be on ‘straightforward facts’ and ‘insightful commentary’.
In an email to staff, the former CBS executive also warned that ‘too many people have lost trust in the news media’.
It has been said that insiders expect him to run CNN his own way rather than as a ‘cult like Jeff Zucker’.
According to Licht’s memo: ‘I think we can be a beacon in regaining that trust by being an organization that exemplifies the best characteristics of journalism: fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning ‘group-think’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.’
Continuing, he said: ‘First and foremost, we should, and we will be advocates for the truth.’
Following CNN+’s cancellation, Chris Wallace’s interview show will get a second chance at HBO Max, reports say.
New owners Warner Bros. Discovery will move Wallace’s Who’s Talking To Chris Wallace to its HBO streaming service. According to Puck, the company is concentrating its cord-cutting investments.
During an interview with The New York Times early last month, the former “Fox News Sunday” host took a number of shots at his former employer.
“I’m fine with opinion: conservative opinion, liberal opinion,” he said of leaving Fox News. “But when people start to question the truth — Who won the 2020 election? Was Jan. 6 an insurrection? — I found that unsustainable.”
According to him, he spent “a lot of 2021 looking to see if there was a different place for me to do my job.”
Wallace said he was “so alarmed by Mr. Carlson’s documentary ‘Patriot Purge’ — which falsely suggested the Jan. 6 Capitol riot was a ‘false flag’ operation intended to demonize conservatives — that he complained directly to Fox News management.”
“Before, I found it was an environment in which I could do my job and feel good about my involvement at Fox,” he continued before whining, “And since November of 2020, that just became unsustainable, increasingly unsustainable as time went on.”
According to an insider on Monday, Licht’s influence will direct the network in the right direction, but there are still many changes to be made.
‘This is a new day for CNN. Chris will be able to make the important changes that will set our news organization up for success.’
As they explained: ‘He’s a good guy and won’t run the organization as a cult of personality like Jeff did.’
According to the source, the channel will improve its ratings if it returns to ‘its roots in news gathering.’
According to her: ‘The one thing he needs to do quickly is remove Jeffrey Toobin from the air.
‘As everyone saw on Saturday night at the Correspondents’ dinner, his continued employment makes us look like a joke. He needs to go ASAP.’
A week ago, Licht described CNN+’s demise as ‘a uniquely s***** situation.’
According to him, consumers want ‘simplicity and an all-in service’ over stand-alone offerings, confirming the new ownership’s choice to make HBO Max the company’s streaming tentpole.
The move followed WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery to create Warner Bros. Discovery.
Licht was handpicked for the highest position at CNN by David Zaslav, who personally spearheaded the acquisition.
CNN+ was also launched following some internal turmoil within CNN that eventually led to CEO Jeff Zucker’s resignation in February as news broke that he had a personal relationship with CNN marketing and communication head Allison Gollust, who resigned as well as a result of the disclosure.
Former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo revealed the relationship when he resigned from his weekly news analysis show after deceiving his bosses about how much help he had been providing his older brother, former Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his efforts to dismiss sexual harassment allegations.
Jason Kilar, WarnerMedia’s CEO before his departure in April, has been alleged to not see eye-to-eye with Aaron Zaslav over Zucker’s dismissal.
As for Chris Wallace, we’ll see how he fares at HBO Max. He should do well as the channel is decidedly left-leaning in its programming.