Politico and CNN both now seem to be making an effort to avoid their naked left-wing bias in favor of more even-handed reporting. Given how the so-called “most trusted name in news” began bleeding viewers after taking up the anti-Trump cause, one could be forgiven for writing it off as a simple course correction with an eye on the bottom line. But with the recent news about a second outlet trying to steer clear of the partisan shoals, the question merits serious consideration: Is this apparent trend, in fact, no trend at all but a simple pair of unrelated and otherwise isolated incidents – or does it herald the beginnings of a sea change in the media writ large?
Politico Sees the Light?
German company Axel Springer SE purchased Politico in late 2021. Now the news is out that Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the media umbrella, might have supported, of all people, the great, evil orange one. “Do we all want to get together for an hour in the morning on November 3 and pray that Donald Trump will again become President of the United States of America?” Döpfner posed this question in a recently revealed e-mail to some close confidants just weeks before the 2020 election.
At first, he denied it. Then he called it a sarcastic joke. Either way, it has progressives in fits. Regardless of Döpfner’s support for the former president or lack thereof, his guiding principle for the news business is worrisome enough for the partisan hacks. “We want to prove that being nonpartisan is actually the more successful positioning,” he said in a recent interview.
Following CNN’s Lead?
Following another media buyout, CNN became the first member of the Fourth Estate to openly admit it planned to change direction. First, the network bid Brian Stelter and his show, Reliable Sources, adieu. Then White House Correspondent John Harwood abruptly left. He was on the air Friday morning, and by noon, he was announcing via social media that it was his last day at CNN. According to the tweet, Harwood is “looking forward to figuring out what’s next.” That doesn’t exactly give the impression of an exit long planned.
As American bard Bob Dylan has been known to sing, the times they are a-changin’. CNN’s new CEO, Chris Licht, made it clear to his crew that “if talent cannot adjust to a less partisan tone and strategy, they could be ousted.” There’s more change to come, he told his people – whether or not they agree with or even understand it. As Liberty Nation’s Sarah Cowgill put it, “Licht is not fooling around,” and the “unfriendly shove out of the nest” will probably continue for the foreseeable future.
After Politico and CNN – Who’s Next?
In July, Politico’s Ben White and the now unemployed Harwood backed the Biden administration’s new definition of “recession” on Twitter. MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle quickly climbed aboard the bandwagon. Forget the fact that all three had clearly understood and agreed with the old meaning in the past – or they certainly seemed to. But will MSNBC follow Politico and CNN once again? The two cable networks have seen sustained ratings drops, both before and after the summer’s lesson in alternative economics. Even The New York Times now has a new beat dedicated to “right-wing media.” Perhaps the paper isn’t quite ready to maroon its own bias, but the addition marks a significant change in how opposing viewpoints are handled.
Should Licht manage to right his ship and inspire tuned-out viewers to return, others might see a way out and act accordingly. MSNBC, NPR, CBS … any number of media entities could soon see the light warning of the rocks ahead. The question is how many will notice – or care – enough to change tack.