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No Country for Old Mann

Pam Drucker Mann
Drucker Mann’s exit is merely yet another source of anxiety around Lynch’s leadership and a reminder of the Condé Nasts’s terminal decline. Photo: Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Glamour
Dylan Byers
May 15, 2024

On Wednesday, CNN C.E.O. Mark Thompson was backstage at Warner Bros. Discovery’s annual upfront presentation, at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, when his political team called to inform him that both president Joe Biden and former president Donald Trump had agreed to the network’s offer to host the first presidential debate. Recognizing the serendipity of the moment, Thompson quickly worked some remarks onto a small note card, took the stage for his portion of the event, and closed by announcing to the room full of advertisers that the historic debate would indeed air on his owned and operated platforms on June 27. “When people have something important to say, they do it on CNN,” Thompson said, adding in one final pitch to the buyers: “I hope you’ll do the same.” ABC News later announced that it will host a second presidential debate, on September 10.

Landing a presidential debate, particularly in this electoral malaise, when the candidates are either hiding from cameras or sitting in courtrooms, is an indisputable victory for CNN and ABC—both of which are in desperate need of momentum, as you all well know. Jeff Zucker, CNN’s former president, told the Times it was “an incredible move by CNN,” and said he was “incredibly proud of them [for pulling] this off.” He also predicted that the debate “will be the most watched event” in the network’s history, emphasizing both the incredible opportunity and responsibility afforded to CNN in this moment. (As I reported earlier today on Twitter, the CNN debate will be moderated by Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. The ABC News debate will be moderated by David Muir and Linsey Davis.)