DC and New York are flooded with speculation that a major shakeup is coming to the low rated CNN. New CNN Worldwide CEO Chris Licht has reportedly asked underlings for all options on the table to include completely rebranding CNN back to an all news format from whence it came.
This would include a possible name change and a personnel bloodbath of opinion show hosts including Don Lemon and Jake Tapper. What set off the potential demise of CNN? The badly handled death of CNN+.
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How did Licht officially react to the shutdown of his low performing streaming network? “As we become Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN will be strongest as part of WBD’s streaming strategy which envisions news as an important part of a compelling broader offering along with sports, entertainment, and nonfiction content,” Licht wrote. “We have therefore made the decision to cease operations of CNN+ and focus our investment on CNN’s core news-gathering operations and in further building CNN Digital.
“This is not a decision about quality; we appreciate all of the work, ambition and creativity that went into building CNN+, an organization with terrific talent and compelling programming. But our customers and CNN will be best served with a simpler streaming choice,” Licht added. Translation: “There’s a new sheriff in town you commie bozos and I’m looking at the bottom line not at your pinko opinions.”
Licht then decapitated what was left of CNN+ by firing CNN executive vice president and chief digital officer Andrew Morse. He did it in a very smarmy fashion. “We are grateful to Andrew for his significant contributions to CNN Digital and CNN+ over the years,’’ Licht said. “He and his team created a quality slate of rich and compelling content and helped produce and distribute CNN’s journalism around the world on a variety of platforms. We appreciate Andrew and everyone’s hard work and dedication.’’ Yup, he’s soooo wonderful. That’s why you fired him.
Licht even telegraphed his punch, just to rub in the pain. The schadenfreude is strong in this one. CNBC: “At 8 a.m. ET on April 11 — the first day Warner Bros. Discovery began trading as a combined company — Licht told Morse and his team that CNN+’s marketing budget was immediately going to zero. It was Licht’s first meeting at CNN.
CNN+ staffers left that meeting knowing the product wasn’t going to continue as is. They hoped it wouldn’t be shut down completely, although they feared a decision had already been made. Morse and his team argued the product was just 12 days old. They tried to make the point that Alex MacCallum, CNN+’s head of product, had come from The New York Times and The Washington Post. CNN was a news service, and it shouldn’t be judged against niche entertainment streaming services.” But no dice. Licht was looking for blood and he found it. Buckets of it. Is he finished abusing the current incarnation of the low rated CNN? We’ll see.