If CNN wants to be perceived as less zealously liberal, they need articles like the latest “West Wing Playbook” at Politico. The headline is “The Biden-CNN Rift.” Maxwell Tani and Alex Thompson found anonymous sources at CNN and at the White House to whisper about the divide.
The White House has been frustrated by some of the network’s programming and talent decisions under new network chief CHRIS LICHT, who continues to reign in the perceived anti-Trump zeal some people at the channel engaged in under his predecessor JEFF ZUCKER.
One person with knowledge of the situation said White House officials were irked by the negative coverage of President JOE BIDEN’s speech last week in Philadelphia decrying the threats to American democracy.
Biden surely thought screaming about Democracy Dying would tickle CNN’s sweet spot.
They especially disliked New Day co-host Brianna Keilar — “an outspoken CNN host known for her tough grilling of Trump officials” – when she criticized Team Biden for putting U.S. Marines in the backdrop behind an obvious campaign speech. She said it was “wrong when Democrats do it. It’s wrong when Republicans do it.”
The reporters reminded readers “West Wing Playbook previously reported that Licht met with White House chief of staff Ron Klain earlier this year” to discuss what CNN could do better.
So when CNN White House correspondent JOHN HARWOOD (whose coverage has been harshly critical of DONALD TRUMP) announced he was leaving the network long before his contract was up, it was noticeable how quickly Klain blasted out a number of tweets praising Harwood. Among those including a tweet that criticized Licht by name. One CNN staffer told West Wing Playbook that during an internal meeting this week, Licht brushed off online criticism of the Harwood departure.
Over the weekend, Klain also reposted resistance media personality RICK WILSON’s tweet dubbing CNN “diet Fox” after anchor POPPY HARLOW asked press secretary KARINE JEAN-PIERRE whether Biden would apologize for calling Republicans “semi-fascists.”
“Diet Fox” is hilarious, and clearly inaccurate. They sound like crybabies when Jean-Pierre gets a mildly challenging question. No challenging questions for Democrats! That makes you Diet Fox. They actually expect to be cuddled.
The Politico duo reminded readers former Obama strategist and current CNN commentator David Axelrod “has driven them crazy with his occasional criticism of the job they’re doing.” Oh no! Occasional criticism!
In another piece analyzing CNN struggling to shift under Licht, Charlotte Klein of Vanity Fair published this laughable anonymous quote from CNN PR:
“This is not about any individual, a shift from left to right, or a pursuit of centrism. We make decisions to support our core strength and mission—objective journalism, presented in a fair and compelling way,” a CNN spokesperson said in a statement to Vanity Fair. “We will continue to focus on trust and tone while engaging a diverse set of perspectives on stories that matter to our audiences. CNN will always stand up for democracy and call out lies, regardless of their origin.”
So far, CNN under Licht cannot be graded as “objective” or “fair,” or as calling out lies regardless of origin.