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CNN and Its Discontents

mark thompson
Thompson has now run CNN for nearly 200 days, during which he has abstained from making almost any programming or editorial changes. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Dylan Byers
April 19, 2024

This week, I received a text from a journalist at CNN—a network stalwart whose attitudes toward the organization, its leadership, and the recent whiplash-inducing years of fleeting promise and recurring disappointment have always hewn closely to the broader sentiments of the 60 or so sources inside Hudson Yards with whom I regularly keep in touch. You know, the sort of person who bemoaned Jeff Zucker’s defenestration, soured pretty fast on Chris Licht, and found cause for optimism upon the arrival of the current chairman and C.E.O., Mark Thompson.

Thompson, after all, was greeted last October as a serious leader with serious credibility—and thus, perhaps, a savior. Six-and-a-half months on from his arrival, however, optimism has been replaced by impatience and, increasingly, disillusionment. “Here’s a question for you,” the journalist wrote to me, rhetorically. “Why is Mark doing interviews with the FT when he has no strategic initiatives or wins to announce?”