There are consequences?

Chris Licht, the former head of CNN who pushed that disastrous, mismanaged Trump town hall on us, seems to have faced some kind of rebuke from the men who control the pursestrings. He has undergone some ambiguous lateral transfer or downgrade — he’s not in charge anymore.

Anyway, the guy made no friends with his “let Republicans lie” brand of journalism because, really, that’s not what journalism is supposed to be. It’s supposed to inform people of the truth. CNN’s staff hated what Licht was trying to do. The viewers hated it, and left in droves. Freaking Newsmax started beating CNN in ratings. And the business suits hated it, because if money isn’t being made, what’s the point? In short, he shit the bed.

It’s not much of a consequence, but it’s something. If nothing else, all his rich friends know that he is in disgrace, which is probably what hurts him most. Being outright fired would hurt him better, though.


  1. cheerfulcharlie says

    It was not just Licht. Licht was under pressure from higher ups, to be more balanced. To have more Republicans. Monkeys zero. Football, one.

  2. crocswsocks says

    The guy’s name is actually Chris Licht, not Jeff. His immediate previous position was working for Colbert, who made a big production out of giving him a fond farewell. I wonder how Stephen feels about his friend showing a complete lack of values.

  3. Larry says

    CNN has achieved something I’d not thought possible. They’ve cratered their credibility to a level equal to SCOTUS.

  4. Doc Bill says

    Chris Licht produced the Colbert show, arguably the best late night show not hosted by Seth Meyers (Myers? Meyer? Meyres? Me5ers?). I was sadly shocked at how utterly bad Licht was running CNN right from the git-go with his personnel changes. Licht never seemed to realize he was flying the plane into the ground. Was there no voice shouting, “Terrain! Terrain! Pull up! Pull up!”

  5. robro says

    Larry @ #4 — I thought CNN achieve that about 31 years ago. I haven’t paid any attention to them since the Gulf War I.

    As cheerfulcharlie suggests in #1, this was not just Licht. He’s the fall guy. And though Carlson was a complete shit, he wasn’t the sole person responsible for Fox News propaganda machine…much of that must fall on the highest level: the Murdochs in the Fox case. In the case of CNN, I would suppose people at Warner Bros. Discovery (the owner of record) such as Samuel DiPiazza (chairman) and David Zaslav (president and CEO) have some say in the direction CNN takes. WBD is in turn owned by AT&T, so their leadership might have some involvement.

  6. says

    This is the fundamental conflict between “journalism” and “information channel.” It’s not new at all; Remember the Maine?

    “Journalism” means “do take in all of the information; but as a journalist, you have a responsibility to evaluate what comes in for its reliability and put out only reliable information and conclusions — even if those conclusions, based on the reliable information, are inconsistent with your preconceived notions (or your boss’s preconceived notions).”

    “Information channel” means “consistent with the boss’s preconceived notion, for a value of ‘boss’s’ that will almost never be transparently disclosed.” With a good boss, that means “just avoid scurrilous personal attacks on the boss” (example: most of the time, Katherine Graham). With a bad boss, that means “slavish loyalty to the boss’s ideological and personal peccadillos” (example: William Randolph Hearst, the man most responsible for casting the Maine explosion in the public’s mind as clear “enemy” action, admittedly not the only one).

    The best we can do is hope for a substantial intersection between these two sets. They’re ordinarily even worse with state-controlled information channels (ever actually read the Tehran Times — and what you see now is nowhere near as corrupt as it was in the 80s?), so don’t just blame capitalist pigs. The capitalist pigs are supposed to know better, but often don’t.

  7. says

    What I see is: Shifting the deck chairs on the MSM titanic (Main Stream Media) from the left to the right but always ending up in a pile in the insipid center with the water rising.
    There is so little of substance in corporate Crapitallist owned main stream media and I won’t touch the toxicity of social media (with the exception of PZ’s reasonable community here and a few other rational pacific communities). I appreciate John Oliver and miss people like Molly Ivins.

  8. Larry says

    Robro @ #7

    Maybe so, but SCOTUS has tanked so precipitously these last few years, CNN towered above them like somebody standing on El Capitan, looking down at people on the valley floor. Once again, they’ve been equalized.

  9. weylguy says

    I understand that the political news rests on the Republican nomination, but for CNN to host the likes of Trump and other wannabes is beyond disgusting. CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and other hosts should be ashamed of themselves.

  10. silvrhalide says

    Sometimes I just can’t stop myself.

    @8 Where were you 25 years ago when I was having this same argument–endlessly–with my editor in chief?
    I could be making so much more money if I learned to never give a shit.

    @7 True, Licht was the fall guy but let’s not pretend that he wasn’t complicit in his own destruction. It’s CNN. They wouldn’t have hired Licht if he wasn’t willing to go along. As my profession was dying, I watched to see who was willing to spout empty-headed nonsense and who just moved on to different professions, just left journalism altogether. It’s the largely the hairsprayed halfwits that keep moving up. Licht was producing a good show for Colbert but how much money could he have been making? Producers at that level don’t get paid squat. So he moved up and moved on, with some strings attached and look at where it got him.

  11. bcw bcw says

    The real driver behind the shift at CNN is Warner Bors-Discovery CEO David Michael Zaslav.

  12. chrislawson says

    When CEOs get fired for the unconscionable things they allow on air instead of for falling business indicators, when those CEOs get fired without bonuses instead of being allowed to stand aside after repeated bad-faith defences of very reasonable criticism, and when board members get removed at Emergency General Meetings called by the shareholders, then I’ll start calling these consequences.

    As things stand, this is just the moneylords finding an easy scapegoat for their own policies and reacting to the embarrassment of a scathing Atlantic article 4 days ago. Licht was appointed on the promise he would move CNN towards a more Republican-friendly model and everything he has done at CNN has been to reduce critical analysis of Republican dissembling because that makes Republicans angry. The MAGA town hall travesty was not a mistake or a betrayal of CNN’s strategy, it was exactly what he was appointed to do.

    Love Rex Huppke’s suggestion that CNN should rebrand itself by stopping all news coverage immediately other than reporting on its own internal political turmoil. It would be more honest, less damaging to the wider world, and better television.

  13. chrislawson says


    I agree completely and would like to make it clear that any comments I make about Licht being a fall guy are not defences of him or his actions. Anyone who has even a skerrick of sympathy for him ought to read this.

    And for a supposed fall guy, it’s not even much of a fall — he has not been sacked or even demoted, just had his operational duties shifted to the COO, which is embarrassing for him I’m sure…but he still has the same editorial powers, again demonstrating that the owners are not displeased with the editorial decisions that led to the MAGA town hall debacle. It’s exactly what they want.

  14. raven says

    OT but good news for once.

    Speaking of consequences, DeSantis just lost in court again.
    This happens often since most of his culture war stuff is illegal, violating a lot of the US constitution. It’s not illegal to be “woke” whatever that is.

    Ron DeSantis loses big in court as judge issues scathing ruling on his anti-trans healthcare law: ‘Gender identity is real’

    Associated Press Tue, June 6, 2023 at 11:41 AM PDT·3 min read

    A federal judge blocked parts of Florida’s new law prohibiting hormone treatments for trans minors.

    Judge Robert Hinkle said ‘gender identity is real’ and endorsed medical treatment for trans kids.

    The ruling is a temporary victory for civil rights groups, but the broader law remains in effect.

    Saying “gender identity is real,” a federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked portions of a new Florida law that bans transgender minors from receiving puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, ruling the state has no rational basis for denying patients treatment.

    Federal judges have ruled on this in the same way in other states, i.e. Alabama.

    The right wingnuts just assert without any proof that Trans health care is wrong and dangerous. They aren’t physicians and they have no data that backs up that claim.

  15. robro says

    silvrhalide @ 12 — Yes of course Licht was complicit. Didn’t mean to suggest he was just the fall guy.

  16. Rich Woods says

    @raven #16:

    The right wingnuts just assert without any proof that Trans health care is wrong and dangerous. They aren’t physicians and they have no data that backs up that claim.

    They don’t care about the lack of evidence. It’s all just performative legislation that they knew would get shot down. They just want to be able to say to their base, “Look! We’re doing our best to protect the kids but the goddamn liberal woke elites and their activist judges are hellbent on stopping us, the goddamn groomers!” And of course there’s the unspoken “We’re still comin’ for ya!” threat to anyone who’s different — anyone at all, because they’re not going to stop with transgender minors, who are just today’s easiest target.

  17. StevoR says

    @ ^ John Morales : Indeed. For example for some the consequences of spouting hate speech and spreading toxic destructive lies are minor. A bit of criticism and pushback, maybe being deplatformed and losing a couple of opportunities to rant and rave and spread hate. At worst some well deserved fines and maybe jail time. For others, the victims of the lies and hate speech is being atatcked, losing basic human rights, having your humanity questioned and being physically injured even maimed or killed.

  18. birgerjohansson says

    Real consequences:
    Rig the bastard to a lie detector and let Rocky Balboa punch him in the family jewels really hard every time the detector indicates a lie.

    I know those things are wildly unreliable but if a professional liar gets punched some extra times I will not complain.

    Also, drag Boris Johnson and his predecessor Cameron to the lie detector while you are at it. And Harper, the Canadian guy.

  19. numerobis says

    Meanwhile at the NYT, that mouthpiece of socialist thought, the top news yesterday was … two golf tournaments are merging.

    Russia blowing a major dam, causing a huge ecological disaster? Meh, that’s second billing. Golf is the important thing.

  20. says


    Twenty-five years ago is not relevant.† The relevant date is probably 37 years ago and I was [classified] doing [classified]. Or, maybe, it’s a few years before that when I was running the underground newspaper in high school. Y’all are late to the party, but thanks for showing up.

    † Leaving aside professional ethics and client privilege, 25 years ago the media didn’t cover the kinds of legal matters I dealt with. It wasn’t even roaring commentators attesting to the virtue of titans of industry and inherited wealth (while carefully neglecting those sponsorships and the discriminatory-country-club memberships) — it was roaring silence.

  21. silvrhalide says

    @23 I suspect one of us is older than the other.

    25 years ago the media didn’t cover the kinds of legal matters I dealt with. It wasn’t even roaring commentators attesting to the virtue of titans of industry and inherited wealth (while carefully neglecting those sponsorships and the discriminatory-country-club memberships) — it was roaring silence.

    Spoiler: THEY STILL DON’T
    Ever wonder what the US economy would look like if Brooksley Born had been the one to stay and Larry Summers, noted misogynist, had gotten the boot instead?

    Or as numberobis pointed out in #22, Russia bombed a major dam, creating a humanitarian disaster as well as the northern hemisphere version of the pantanal with a looming version of Fukushima: Ukrainian edition as an added bonus, in a country who has already suffered from a previous nuclear power plant disaster (also caused by Russian stupidity–equal parts of Hey, Let’s Have An Emergency Test Since We’ve Never Had One Before and also Hey, What Does This Button Do? [Spoiler: it does nothing. Soviet engineering at its finest.]) and have you seen anything about it in the news, other than “the plant is being monitored”? (Well I fucking well hope so. Is there an actual game plan for cooling the nuclear plant now that the cooling system can charitably be deemed compromised?) Pretty much all journalism is remarkably mute on the subject, along with anything resembling analysis of Why This Might Be A Problem. Things like “what happens if there is a Fukushima-style meltdown in a major wheat-producing country, which would compromise said country from ever producing wheat again for the lifetime of this planet” or “what it means for food production and potential famine for a large chunk of the planet since a lot of Ukraine is now flooded, ie., no crops in the affected area” or even “is the bombing of the dam Putin’s way of saying ‘if I can’t have it, you can’t have it either’ or just his way of ensuring that there will be a barrier of one kind or another between Western Europe and Russian?”
    See any story like that in the major media outlets?
    Me neither.

    But one of my former coworkers, a hairsprayed halfwit who knows nothing about anything apparently has a media career on local cable news because he can goose a nothingburger story with hysteria and hype.

    I miss Lowell Bergman.

  22. silvrhalide says

    @22 And the NYT covered the merging of LIV and the PGA in the shallowest and most meaningless way, ie., “hey look, all the pro golfers who refused to play for LIV got screwed, sucks to be them”. Not ‘hey, these people had integrity and got screwed, let’s do in-depth interviews/profiles and find out why they made the decision that they did” or even “we don’t allow foreign investors to own major media outlets (it’s the reason Murdoch became a US citizen–so he could buy & own controlling shares of major media stocks or just own outlets, Fox News & WSJ) so why are we allowing a corrupt and homicidal hereditary regime to backdoor their way into the American public media via professional sports” or even “is the Saudi regime trying to buy public goodwill to erase the Jamal Khashoggi assassination in the public consciousness”. Or even “with Saudi control of a major sport, what does this mean for sports advertising and sponsorship–will some businesses be favored over others or will media outlets critical of the Saudi regime be shut out from participating/covering/advertising in US pro golf”?

    Yeah, I think that Ukraine is the bigger story but let’s not pretend that there weren’t several serious news stories in the LIV/PGA merger, all of which were ignored, because major media outlets don’t want to be shut out of pro golf coverage and the attendant advertising $$$.

  23. says

    @24 Not sure what “precedent” you’re asking me to cite, but there are some nonpublic restrictions. That’s what “nondisclosure agreement,” “nondisparagement agreement,” “continuing judicial supervision of terms of a settlement or judgment,” and “client confidentiality” often result in. (And the corollary for anything related to the darker aspects of government: Those who know aren’t allowed to tell; those who tell generally don’t know, or they’d be restricted.) These were specific examples as refutation of universalist memes — nothing more, nothing less. We won’t get into the jurisprudential (and general philosophical, not to mention inconsistent with the scientific method) problems with overreliance on and overreaching concerning the value of “precedent” when public discourse all too often resembles the battle of the books in St. James’s library last Friday.

    @26 That rather assumes that PGA members — or, indeed, anyone connected with golf — “had integrity.” Necessary factual premise not in evidence (having been excluded on the basis of ancestry from a country club whose golf course hosted/s PGA events…).

  24. wzrd1 says

    @Jaws, I suspect you’ll appreciate this one.
    I can neither confirm, nor deny whether I can confirm, nor deny whether or not I exist.
    I was very, very good at my job, although I’m no longer allowed to know what I did. However, I do have unclassified documentation that says that my superiors found that I was exceptionally good at my job, which they knew nothing whatsoever about.

    The precedent requested was in a similar vain sought vein.
    I’ll get my helmet agai- aw shit, they don’t have neutronium lined helmets on this planet!