A former CNN media reporter, Puck News’s Dylan Byers wrote Wednesday night that CNN is currently “a seismic mess” and in a state of “depleted morale” and “overwhelming sense of frustration and resentment” with employees enraged by boss Chris Licht in general and, specifically, his decision to host a town hall with former President Trump.
The employees remained hellbent on running the asylum as they longed for the days of former boss and puppetmaster, Jeff Zucker, directing their every move and enabling them to be as wildly progressive and hateful toward conservatives as their heart’s desired. Instead, they’ve been beset with someone CNNers see “as Captain Queeg, the antagonist from Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny.”
Byers framed his piece through the lens of a Columbia Journalism commencement address and CNN International/PBS anchor Christiane Amanpour gave that directly lambasted Licht.
Byers conceded that “Licht has a difficult job” consisting of, along with “replac[ing] a legend” in their Dear Leader, “oversee a global news organization during a time of foreign war and a looming presidential election, manage through the exigencies of a fresh corporate merger… oh, and oversee a unit of thousands of journalists, many of whom are world famous, some of whom are prima donnas, and some more of whom are indifferent to managing up, his vision, etcetera.”
Byers did get high and mighty: “And as the contretemps over Oliver Darcy’s recent newsletter lede criticism of the town hall clearly manifested, these are journalists: it’s their job to speak truth to power, even when it’s their boss.”
Arguing Amanpour “channeled the widely held frustrations of so many” colleagues, Byers noted what’s long been Licht’s hope for CNN to move back to the center and, in what would be a shocking turn of events, deliver the news in “a neutral forum” for all Americans.
Byers didn’t praise the pivot in this piece, instead fretting “Licht’s ‘dispassion’ mandate has neutered the career trajectory of journalists who thrived in the Zucker era” such as banishing Brianna Keilar, who had become “a minor celebrity for her impassioned critiques of Trump and his enablers,” to weekday afternoons.
Byers cut to the chase, citing his tenure (and Trump townhall) as having created a “depleted morale” among CNN employees to the point that he’s “never felt such an overwhelming sense of frustration and resentment toward Licht as in the week since the town hall, and never from such a broad range of sources, more than 40 of whom I’ve spoken with in recent days.”
He added that Amanpour’s speech and the infamous Darcy newsletter were “the most diplomatic and nuanced articulations of” Licht as, “[i]n private, they are far more passionate and explicit”.
Byers also had Amanpour take a childish potshot at Kaitlan Collins, who was the Trump town hall moderator and named Wednesday as the new host of CNN’s 9:00 p.m. Eastern hour (other than Wednesdays, which will be King Charles with Gayle King and Charles Barkley):
Finally, she suggested that she...might have done a better job moderating the town hall than Collins, the 31-year-old golden child of Licht’s New CNN whose measured and respectful fact-checking of Trump hardly served as a counterbalance to his onslaught of lies and misinformation. “I would have dropped the mic at ‘nasty person,’” Amanpour said, referring to Trump’s memorable insult toward Collins. “But then that’s me,” she said. “I’ve been in the ring for a long time with these people.”