CNN boss: "So much of what passes for news is name-calling, half-truths and desperation"

(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Chris Licht, the former Executive Producer of Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” and the man who created MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” has been red-pilled.


Licht inherited a mess when he was named Chairman and CEO of CNN earlier this year. The news channel was bleeding cash and about to launch a wildly expensive and doomed-to-fail streaming channel.

You know the story–Chris Wallace left his plum gig at Fox News to become the star of a channel that never was. One of Licht’s first moves was to cauterize that wound, and he has been forced to make other painful changes to the network.

Licht’s strategy for reviving CNN is pretty simple: slash expenses and move the channel to the political center in order to appeal to a wider audience. In its earlier incarnation it was competing with MSNBC for the Lefty audience and had lost the trust of everybody who was not communist-adjacent. His idea is pretty simple: there must a few Americans left who want news, not chatbots whose sole job is to confirm their priors.

We have yet to see if that strategy will work; he only came on board in May, and he is still in the slash and burn phase of his plan.

It’s no secret why CNN insiders would be bitching about his moves. Being on a sinking ship might suck, but if the leak is slow enough and your suite comfy enough it is much much better than being tossed into the water to sink or swim. And lots of people have been tossed overboard.

But Licht has discovered that many of his harshest critics were not the victims of his purges–it’s the “journalists” who have been covering his attempt to save the network. And most of the criticism has been linked to his attempt to move the network back to the political center.


Remember: Licht is no righty. He isn’t hiring Sean Hannity or even Hugh Hewitt. As far as I know Salem Communications doesn’t have to worry that its staff will be raided for conservative celebrities to host new CNN gabfests. He’s the guy who launched Morning Joe and is best buds with Stephen Colbert. In fact, Colbert had Don Lemon and they discussed Licht for a bit, and Lemon shocked even Colbert by asserting that CNN was never liberal.

To the Left Licht is the reincarnation of Genghis Khan, marauding across the landscape slaying the innocent. Lemon is believed to be among journalists who is ticked at Licht due to his apparent demotion, but as a current CNN employee he was muted in his criticism of Licht. But Lemon, too, insists that he has always been fair and unbiased.

In a series of interviews with the New York Times Licht has some choice words for the coverage of his efforts.

A chorus of media pundits has pounced on every tidbit of bad news. Mr. Licht’s early programming efforts aimed at repositioning the network as broader and less partisan have prompted howls of criticism, with former MSNBC host and former colleague Keith Olbermann publicly calling Mr. Licht a “TV Fascist” after he moved Don Lemon, a liberal host, from a prime-time slot to a revamped morning show.

“The uninformed vitriol, especially from the left, has been stunning,” Mr. Licht said in one of several interviews with The New York Times spanning his nearly eight-month tenure. “Which proves my point: so much of what passes for news is name-calling, half-truths and desperation.”


“So much of what passes for news is name-calling, half-truths and desperation.” Exactly.

This is part and parcel of the internet-era media landscape, and one of the winning points Matt Taibbi made during his winning debate performance in Canada’s Munk Debate. As the media landscape has become more fragmented it has become ideologically less diverse on the whole. In order to survive in a world where there are so many options for people, the easiest way to get attention and hence revenue is to pick an audience and cater to it. And the best strategy to do so is tell people what they want to hear, and only what they want to hear. Pick a side and cater to it.

Objective news is a niche product these days.

Fox News is so successful because of this phenomenon. It basically owns the TV landscape for conservative news; there are competitors, but tiny by comparison. As the sole conservative news outlet it has the playing field to itself.

On the Left there is basically everybody else. And as CNN was part of that “everybody else” CNN had a revenue problem–there just isn’t a large enough pie for all the Left-wingers to succeed over the long term. But venturing into the “just the news” space that independent journalists like Bari Weiss and Matt Taibbi have succeeded in, Licht has had to piss off the Left, whose business model relies on claiming the mantle of objectivity while peddling “name-calling, half-truths and desperation.”


Licht is experiencing the consequences. By leaving the reservation he has incurred the wrath of the media elite, and is being subject to the same treatment anybody who does so experiences. Weiss and Taibbi are despised by MSM “journalists,” and Licht is too these days.

The Colbert guy is a traitor to the cause.

Almost all MSM journalism is propaganda. In this it is not alone; much “conservative” news reporting, at least from celebrity commentators, is a form of propaganda that sells.

Deviating from the company line means incurring the wrath of an audience seeking confirmation of its priors. Calling it as you see it–while admitting your own priors–is a risky business. It is much more honest to admit your biases and then tell the truth as you see it. Skip the propaganda and you have to make an argument, but you are serving your customers better.

Bari Weiss experienced that when Elon Musk (of whom I am a fan) dismissed her dissent against his Muskpocalypse last Thursday. I think both had good and not-so-good points, but Weiss was roundly criticized as merely trying to appeal to her woke former colleagues. I disagree with that–she may have had a good point or have been wrong in her call, but leaving the reservation isn’t evidence of bad motives. You can be wrong without it meaning you are a sellout.

I am an unapologetic ideological warrior, but I refuse to be a sellout or liar. It’s why I can both admire Bernie Sanders’ commitment to his ridiculous and harmful principles while having utter contempt for “journalists” who only care about appealing to their audience and are willing to sacrifice the truth to do so. Lying to readers and viewers in order to score points–either debating or rating points–is ultimately betraying those very people.


Too many “journalists” no longer have self-respect, and certainly they don’t respect their readers. It is truly disgusting.

Licht is learning this in real time. In fact, most people who have been covered in the news have as well, whether they get favorable or unfavorable coverage. It is impossible to interact with reporters for any length of time without figuring out the Narrative they are promoting and realizing how distorted the view of the world they are pushing.

If your job is spreading propaganda you can use that fact to your advantage. But if you are a “newsmaker”  you learn soon enough that lots of journalists are self-conscious liars.

They do little but peddle “name-calling, half-truths, and name calling.”

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