Jake Tapper hopes to clear some doubts about his job. “I just want to reassure everyone out there that CNN’s commitment to standing up for democracy remains as strong as ever,” he told me over the phone this week as Congress opened another public hearing into its probe into the attack preparing the January 6th Capitol. “jeff sugar was a strong voice for it, and Chris light is too.”
Licht’s commitment to Tapper was evident on Thursday, when the network announced the Sunday morning and weekday afternoon host would be rescheduled to 9pm through the 2022 interim period. The prime-time program change, which follows a weekday morning shake, comes as Licht, who took over as CNN’s chief executive in May, is making his mark on the network. It also comes amid concerns that under a new regime, CNN is abandoning its unabashed reporting of attacks on the Democratic process to appear more Republican. Brian Steller‘s shot was the first shot to coincide with the chipping Reliable source. Then veteran White House correspondent John Harwood announced he would also be leaving the network just hours after telling viewers that President Joe Biden was right when he called out the threat of MAGA law. “I really hope we’re not practicing two-way democracy,” said one staffer vanity fair amidst the fallout.
The new CEO has expressed a desire to phase out the combative editorial approach CNN took during the Trump era in favor of an impartial focus (or at least the perception of it). Licht has reportedly met with the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, one of the 147 GOP lawmakers who voted to overturn the 2020 election results and reportedly discouraged staffers from using “the big lie,” a term he believes too close to the Democratic Party’s talking points . (Licht supports the use of the phrase “Trump’s election lie.”) Media reporters have examined the possible impact of john malone, a conservative billionaire who is a major shareholder of CNN’s new parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, which completed a merger in April.
Over the past year, the network has taken an aggressive approach to covering the fall of the Trump administration and the Jan. 6 riots, churning out dozens of exclusives and breaking the news about the notorious Mark Meadows Texts, the Justice Department’s investigation into Trumpworld’s phony election plan, and numerous leaks related to the Jan. 6 Special Committee work. It has broadcast every hearing of the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol — the same hearings that Republicans have dismissed as partisan witch hunts. According to Tapper and CNN Executive Vice President of Programming Michael Bass, The change in ownership and leadership will not impact the channel’s commitment to January 6 coverage. “Our plan remains the same,” Bass said in reference to the network’s coverage of the committee, adding that CNN “will be fully involved on hearing days.” While acknowledging that changes are happening at CNN, Bass noted that light has guided the network’s commitment to January 6 coverage “every step of the way.”
“If the foundations of our country are under attack, what story could be more important than this?” he said. “So that would certainly qualify as a big story that Chris is very heavily involved in.”
CNN has joined all major news networks – except Fox News – to broadcast the hearings live in prime time. Light staged Tapper and Anderson Cooper to air two-hour summaries of the hearings during daytime prime time, per Tapper. The broadcaster intends to broadcast in full the committee hearing on Jan. 6, which is due to take place mid-next week. Tapper also noted that his latest documentary — an hour-long special on the Jan. 6 committee findings and Republican efforts to undermine future elections that aired Sunday, Sept. 18 — “was penned by Chris Licht.” The Sunday Special was a sequel to Trumping Democracy: An American Coup a project that CNN’s documentary team produced when Zucker was still helming the show. Licht greenlit a request from Tapper to air updated reruns of it over the summer.
Like many outlets, CNN experienced a post-Trump ratings slump, but current audiences took a keen interest in the outlet’s laser-like focus on Jan. 6. In July, 6 of the 20 longest-read articles on the CNN website were related to his coverage of the committee. CNN Digital’s live streams were all among the most popular events for the site, behind only the 2022 State of the Union address and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The sixth hearing attended by former Meadows assistants Cassidy Hutchinson‘s explosive testimony was the third most watched live event of the year.
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/09/cnn-january-6-coverage “There’s No Way to Brush It to the Side”: CNN Insists January 6 Coverage Won’t Be Sidelined Under New Regime