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Tuesday, July 18, 2023
MRC Both Sad And Happy That CNN's Licht Got Fired
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center was rooting for Chris Licht to humiliate anyone at CNN who wasn't sufficiently pro-Trump, while pressuring him to force the channel to become a Fox News clone. When not only none of that came to pass but Licht effectively got fired -- which threw a wrench in the MRC's hope that Oliver Darcy would get fired for telling thetruth about CNN's town hall debacle with Donald Trump --  the MRC managed to be both sad and gleeful. Chief cheerleader/tormentor Curtis Houck wrote in a June 7 post:

In news first broken Wednesday morning by former CNN media reporter Dylan Byers of Puck, embattled CNN chief executive Chris Licht is stepping down from the network and parent company Warner Bros. Discovery after a tumultuous tenure marked by his inability to have buy in from a far-left employee base still loyal to their former puppetmaster, Jeff Zucker.

Warner Bros Discovery chief executive David Zaslav told staff of the change and said in a statement that he has “great respect for Chris, personally and professionally” and correctly added that “[t]he job...was never going to be easy, especially at a time of huge disruption and transformation.”

According to The Washington Post and others, longtime CNN executives Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, and Eric Sherling will lead the network with newly-minted chief operating officer David Leavy also playing a key role.

Licht, who was hired in March 2022 and began a month later by killing off the bloated CNN+ after hilariously low interest at its launch. It was all downhill with Licht promising to change the culture at the network after years of ardent, vicious punditry and a singular obsession with Donald Trump and, well, not much else (despite umpteen other stories around the world).

All the while, he made a litany of mistakes. Along with refusing to clean house of Zucker loyalists, Licht’s drab scheduling changes failed to improve ratings.

Yes, we remember how bizarrely giddy the MRC was when CNN+ was shut down after little more than a month, which was more a function of new owners deciding to kill it before it had a chance to be successful than any faults of its own. And, yes, Houck is still hanging the anti-Semitic "puppetmaster" slur on the Jewish Zucker.

As he did in his review of the massive Atlantic profile of Licht that ended up being the final nail in his CNN coffin, Houck insisted that Licht was doing the right thing, just not hard and fast enough, attacking anyone at CNN who missed Zucker and resisted Licht's changes as being part of a "mob":

In the end, Licht’s public promises and perhaps too-eager expounding on his applaudable view of what journalism should look to The Atlantic’s Tim Alberta like was a death knell as he and Warner Bros. Discovery boss David Zaslav refused to clean house of a employee base still fixated on being told what to do and follow the snobbery Zucker micromanaged from his control room and newsroom office.

Refusing to accept the fact Licht hammered home that their network’s brand and trust had taken a hit and needed to be restored, the mob was allowed to grow.

Zaslav’s challenge going forward will be whether he can find someone that, a, wants the job and, b, concurs with his vision (shared by influential shareholder John Malone) that CNN spent recent years throwing away its reputation in the name of feigning outrage and a fixation on destroying Trump.

By contrast, we don't recall Houck ever criticizing the micromanagement of Fox News executives such as Roger Ailes,  and he certainly hasn't complained that Fox News is "throwing away its reputation" in the name of feigning outrage and a fixation on destroying President Biden (and Hunter). He concluded by whining that "In the interim, expect CNN employees to feel liberated to return to flashing more of their visceral hatred for Trump and conservatives," while remaining silent about Fox News hosts expressing their visceral hatred of Biden and liberals.

Houck then appeared on Tim Graham's podcast later that day, where he repeated his previous talking points on Licht and CNN while refusing to apply those same standards to Fox News. Both Graham and Houck made sure to keep up its nasty attack on Darcy as a "Benedict Arnold" because he escaped the right-wing media bubble.

Jeffrey Lord spent his June 10 column complaining about Lichts' firing and laughably portraying CNN's content as "far-left":

Suffice to say, as the dismissal of CNN CEO Chris Licht this week illustrates vividly, CNN staff and employees are long gone from Ted Turner’s founding vision. The star at CNN now is supposed to be woke leftism, not journalism. In today’s world the entire point of CNN’s woke lefties existence is to present the news in a decidedly far-left fashion. And if you disagree with that - as Chris Licht did - they are coming for you.


The entire Atlantic piece, not to mention the magazine itself, is all about virtue signaling woke leftism. That’s fine as far as it goes. Free speech is a good thing. God Bless America.

But the problem vividly illustrated both in the Atlantic article and the firing of Chris Licht mere days later as a result is that the American left is intolerant of dissent. It is populated by would-be media totalitarians who will brook no dissent in the world of what they see as an exclusive left-wing platform. It is no small thing that when Licht had CNN host a town hall with Donald Trump, CNN’s ratings soared. And CNN’s employees rebelled.

Graham returned for a June 11 post to complain that CNN deserves competent management:

Fox News media reporter Brian Flood reported that former New York Times columnist and podcaster Kara Swisher proclaimed Warner Bros. boss David Zaslav "needs to get the f—k out of the way" and "let the professionals take over" and try to fix CNN.

Zaslav's pick as CNN CEO, Chris Licht, was pushed out this week after the CNN employees were in revolt after CNN's town hall with Donald Trump. After that show, CNN's ratings dipped even lower, losing to Newsmax on some nights.

"I think they can be news without having to declare constantly they're centrist," Swisher said on her "Pivot" podcast for New York magazine. "That was… very much David Zaslav. Let me just say, I think Chris was a proxy for him."


Swisher recently tweeted Rupert Murdoch and his "minions" are a "coven of toxic ghouls."

Graham made no effort to disprove that last point.

Houck served up a June 15 post whining that CNN employees are happy Licht is gone (complete with Zucker "puppetmaster" smear):

Puck’s Dylan Byers ended last week with some scuttlebutt on his ex-employer following the axing of CNN boss Chris Licht that, as we’ve repeatedly documented (see here and here), came down to a Mean Girls-like disgust and smear campaign by the litany of CNN employees Licht and Warner Bros. Discovery head honcho David Zaslav not only failed to jettison for loyalty to former puppetmaster Jeff Zucker, but gain buy-in for CNN to be more centrist and less toxic.

According to Byers, the inmates are ebullient over Licht being canned and replaced (at least for now) with a triumvirate of longtime CNN executives that have left them with “feelings of relief and optimism” and able to return to how they behaved during the Trump presidency. What children.

The thin-skinned CNN employers were said, as per Byers, to be nearly uniform in possessing “widespread feelings of relief and optimism, a sense that their long national nightmare has finally come to an end.”

How self-important are these people? Byers added that “[s]ome” CNNers cited “the lifting of the” smoke in New York from Canadian wildfires “as a fitting metaphor for their own condition.”


Despite Byers reminding readers Zaslav and those around him haven’t shown any signs of wanting CNN to change (for the better), it’s nonetheless a eye-rolling endeavor for anyone who has to stomach this network.

Of course, Houck's idea of CNS changing "for the better" means turning it into another Fox News. Houck did eventually concede that CNN employees did learn to hate Licht for good reasons that had nothing to do with alleged loyalty to Zucker:

Earlier in the piece, Byers added new color on why Licht initially lost trust as, after CNN had insisted they would be immune from layoffs by their parent company (except for CNN+), Licht was clotheslined by news from corporate that, actually, CNN would have to lay off scores of employees in late November.

This, Byers explained, caused CNNers to see Licht as “a hypocrite, a leader who could not be trusted, maybe even a patsy.”

So maybe Houck hates Zucker to obsessively to be able to see past him and perform an honest, unbiased examination of things at CNN that are divorced from his employer's desires to destroy the network for not being Fox News.

The MRC also published a June 19 syndicated column by Cal Thomas lamenting that Licht's firing "makes my point" that the media is too liberal -- but he refused to attack Fox News as too conservative.

Posted by Terry K. at 10:24 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, July 18, 2023 10:33 PM EDT

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