Welcome back to In The Room, my biweekly newsletter on the inner workings of the American media. In tonight’s issue, fresh reporting on the dark mood inside CNN and the mounting doubts over Chris Licht’s stewardship of the faltering, once-august media brand.
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When Chris Licht was named chairman and chief executive of CNN, some mere eight months ago, he told employees that his boss, David Zaslav, had given him “one simple directive: to ensure that CNN remains the global leader in NEWS.” The mandate, with its all-caps emphasis on “news,” was actually more nuanced than Licht suggested, and contained within it the seeds of the Zaz-Lichtian thesis for what CNN should be, and what it shouldn’t.
First, the mandate was a repudiation of the anti-Trump grandstanding that had permeated the era of Licht’s predecessor, Jeff Zucker, and that had come to define the network in the eyes of its critics, and even some supporters who...