When you take the reins of an organization as big as CNN and promise to improve the product while revolutionizing all media coverage in the United States, you set the bar very high and failure is not not an option.
The first time I heard Chris Licht’s name was when he became a producer on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Between Licht’s arrival and departure, Colbert had found his feet and was at the top of late-night shows.
The producer and the comedian had become close enough that Licht sought advice from his accomplice when CNN offered to replace Jeff Zucker as president. Colbert’s advice? Do not go.
Good idea bad execution
Well aware that CNN was criticized for clearly unfavorable coverage of Donald Trump and the Republicans, Chris Licht promised upon his arrival a “reset”, a new approach to bring back the conservatives.
Interested in the challenge and promises of CNN’s new president, The Atlantic magazine journalist Tim Alberta negotiated privileged access to Licht’s daily life. Last Friday, Alberta presented us with the fruit of a full year of observations.
The result is devastating for the president of CNN, a captain who would have escaped the helm and who would face mutineers. Anyone who wanted a more factual and objective presentation of the information appears in a very unflattering light.
Alberta presents us with a man who has lost the confidence of his journalists after ridiculing their work, a strategically clumsy leader, a man in the grip of a sick obsession to do better than his predecessor and, finally, a president constantly distracted by what other media write about him.
Trust Trump and regret it
Strong passages of the article from Alberta are reserved for the disaster that was the evening recently reserved for Donald Trump in New Hampshire. Anxious to honor his promise to be less hostile to the former president, Licht offered him a dream slot, that of the middle of the evening.
While Trump’s entourage smelled the trap, the president of CNN preferred to trust the 45th president, going so far as to suggest that he take the opportunity to have fun. The most deceitful president in history did not ask for so much.
The rest you know. A host delivered to a partisan audience and overwhelmed by the number of lies of her guest. The latter reserved insults for her while threatening to trample the logo of the network in front of the cameras.
Much has been written about the troubles of Fox News recently, but in an age of polarization and all-out media warfare, we cannot ignore the major crisis facing another wealthy and influential network.