CNN, the media landscape which has become synonymous with fake news, continues to display an unchecked toxic culture as employees express their disdain for the new CEO, Chris Licht.
The Atlantic published a highly in–depth profile of Licht which detailed the problems he faced trying to rebrand the organization. However, Inside Edition’s Brain Stelter who was fired by Licht took a deeper dive into the issue when he wrote for New York Magazine. He reported on the opinions of three staffers who said that “He’s over,” “He’s done,” and, “There’s no coming back from that profile.”
It appears that the rest of CNN’s employees are joining in on the derision of Licht as well. Many in the news organization don’t believe that Licht or the company‘s parent company, Discovery, Inc CEO David Zaslav can make any meaningful changes. They seem to think that the news division is not broken and that nothing needs to be fixed.
Unfortunately, the hostility towards the new leadership goes beyond the staff‘s opinions of Licht to the sheer refusal to accept any criticism or commentary. It appears that the only way to get their attention is to get abrasive.
This is of particular concern when it comes to CNN’s low ratings and lack of trust from outside the media bubble. Licht was highly critical of the news organization’s coverage of the pandemic in The Atlantic profile, claiming that it was unduly hyped for ratings. Licht later stated that his criticisms were from research that showed some viewers had lost trust in the network due to the pandemic.
But this attitude of ignoring and defaming any kind of criticism has caused a substantial rift with viewers. As one former host put it, “Something has got to give.”
It’s clear that there are major internal problems at CNN. How else do you explain the disproportionate response to Licht criticizing the news coverage when it’s obvious that there were major issues with it for many months? The network seems to be completely unwilling to recognize any kind of fault in their reporting and instead focuses on attacking those who question their journalism.
Going forward, the only way for CNN to earn back the respect of the public is to realize the mistakes it has made and own up to them. It needs to show humility and make the necessary changes in order to regain the trust of its viewers.
Until then, it is only fair to say that the network does not deserve the public‘s trust. With the toxic and hostile culture that it has created within its own company, it is obvious that the problems at CNN go deeper than just the leadership.