“An unkindness of ravens” is a 19th-century phrase born of the notion that these birds weren’t all that caring about their progeny. Basically, there was a swift kick out of the nest whether or not the wings were fully feathered. And it seems that expression can describe the 21st-century Cable News Network letting go of many employees for left-wing bias. Some say the purge by CEO Chris Licht is designed to rid CNN of far-left partisan baggage and return the network to its founding concept of 24-hour unbiased news. Yes, Licht, the big bird in town, is ruffling more than a few liberal feathers that have been allowed to flap uncontrollably for quite some time now.
Licht sensed that the “Go Woke, Go Broke” motto was severely tarnishing CNN’s “Most Trusted Name in News” mantra. As he put it bluntly: “If talent cannot adjust to a less partisan tone and strategy, they could be ousted.” But, of course, the CEO isn’t just a meanie; he was given marching orders by his corporate bosses at Warner Bros. Discovery to rescue the cable network from opinion-based programming and focus on just the facts. So, my, oh, my, the fledglings may be a-blowin’ in the wind.
Is CNN Salvageable?
Since the chant “fake news” erupted in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, CNN has been hemorrhaging ratings. And the mass exodus seems to consist of an inordinate amount of talking heads as well as minor reporters. Chris Cuomo hit the skids for advising his beleaguered brother, Andrew, on sexual assault allegations. He was summarily fired last December, as reported by Brian Stelter, who also recently received a pink slip.
Some who did receive the “hey, we are changing our tune” memo are going out in a blaze of defiant glory. John Harwood, veteran White House correspondent, posted to Twitter that President Joe Biden’s recent speech was spot on — the part about the MAGA fascist folks. Fourteen hours later, he was off to pursue something else, looking “forward to figuring out what’s next.” Licht is not fooling around.
During a weekly call to his editorial staff, Licht pulled no punches: “I want to acknowledge that this is a time of significant change, and I know that many of you are unsettled. There will be more changes, and you might not understand or like it.”
But, But, What About Our Freedom of Speech?
As one might surmise, a few CNN folks are speaking out — under the promise of anonymity. Some have reported that staff are having an “unsettling time from top to bottom,” and no one “is happy right now.”
Another disturbed soul with safe-space issues insisted, as if there is a conspiracy afoot: “People are freaked out. It almost feels like there’s a pattern. Is there a purge going on? They seem to be sending a message.” Well, if CNN is expunging the radical left employees who publicly express their feelings, such personnel might refrain from tweeting emotional outbursts. The list is long and somewhat tragic for true far-left believers who felt it was their right to sell opinions as fact-based news.
More likely than not, the unfriendly shove out of the nest will continue for some time yet. In his defense, Licht did put his intentions in writing last May. The employee memo read in part that CNN would focus on “[f]earlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning ‘group-think,’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.”
Well, no wonder there is so much squawking going on in Atlanta these days.