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New CNN Boss to Zucker-Loving Staff: Don’t Be ‘Distracted’ About ‘Balance’!

by | Oct 13, 2023

By Tim Graham

Wall Street Journal reporter Isabella Simonetti underlined how new CNN chief executive Mark Thompson is cozying up to the Jeff Zucker-loving bias brigade at CNN. On his first day on Monday, he spoke to employees in a video message. He said CNN needs to step up its digital game, saying conventional TV “can no longer define us,” and said its journalists shouldn’t be “distracted” by debates about balance or false equivalency.

“For most people under retirement age, the first place they turn for news is their phones, not their TVs. And news players who can’t or won’t respond to that revolution risk losing their audience and their business,” Thompson said, adding “this company is still nowhere near ready for the future…TV is vital and there’s urgent work to do there, especially as we rebuild prime time. But TV is also too dominant at CNN and digital too marginal.”

Thompson urged CNN to define the news, not just react to it. “And let’s not second guess ourselves or get distracted by complicated arguments about balance or whataboutism or false equivalency. Let’s cover political news proportionately and fairly, but not be frightened of our own shadows.

Whatever criticism CNN employees are absorbing from the right or from the center, the on-air product hasn’t displayed any serious tendency to abandon its Zuckeresque tilt against Trump and Republicans in general. 

In the CNN “Reliable Sources” newsletter, Oliver Darcy reported that Thompson prefaced that by saying he wants to “follow the news wherever it leads us and no matter who it is going to upset.” That’s “trust your gut” talk, not an “add balance and fairness” note. The temporary horror that was Chris Licht talking about “balance” and “false equivalency” is gone, and the old approach is okay again.

Thompson said that he “chose to do this job” because “the world needs news it can trust more than ever.” He said that he believes CNN is well-positioned to deliver it. Thompson argued that “there are plenty of news organizations” such as The New York Times, that “bring the news to elite audiences.” He added, “CNN was founded to bring it to everyone.

At this point, nobody really buys that pep talk. CNN has a left-wing partisan Democrat base that needs to be pleased, and that’s who CNN’s journalists are looking to please.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Newsbusters and is reposted with permission.

Categories: Media Bias