CNN boss Chris Licht thought Trump was popular because conservative voices are marginalized. He got it so wrong that he is destroying the network.
. But Licht had come to Manchester with bigger ambitions than lifting CNN out of the viewership basement for a single evening in May. He believed that Trump owed his initial political ascent in part to the media’s habit of marginalizing conservative views and Republican voters.
That needed to change ahead of 2024. Licht wasn’t scared to bring a bunch of MAGA enthusiasts onto his set—he had remarked to his deputies, in the days before the town hall, about the “extra Trumpy” makeup of the crowd CNN was expecting—and he damn sure wasn’t scared of Trump. The way to deal with a bully like Trump, Licht told his journalists, was to confront him with facts.
CNN’s Chris Licht Got Everything Wrong
Licht’s fundamental premise is wrong. Conservatives are not marginalized. The top cable news network is conservative, and the top political websites are conservative.
Conservatives have lost every election since 2016, yet the media establishment caters to them more than ever.
If anything, the media is oversaturated with conservative representation. CNN’s problem isn’t that it is too far left or right. It’s that CNN is boring. Cable news is fluffy entertainment for people who like politics, Whether a person watches Fox or MSNBC those networks know how to entertain their audience, and they have to be entertaining because there is only so much political news to cover in a day. Cable news networks spend most of their time thinking of different ways to say the same thing over and over again.
The idea that Trump can be disarmed with facts has been disproven for the last eight years, and Trump treats facts like opportunities to lie.
Legacy Media Can’t See That America Has Changed
The United States hasn’t been the center-right nation legacy media thinks it is for a long time. A new generation of voters is coming of age and are center-left. Interestingly, these younger voters are the voices who are underrepresented in media and polling.
Tim Alberta states the legacy media delusion that Trump has a good chance of being the next president. This is a fallacy that legacy media and journalists tell themselves to justify giving Trump oxygen.
Republicans know that Trump can’t win, which is why many of them are pushing Ron DeSantis so hard.
Trump increases Democratic turnout, and those voters will turn out in massive numbers if he is at the top of the ticket.
CNN is a dumpster fire because the people in charge are chasing ghosts of the ratings past. Nobody wants a Fox News mini-me, and the conservative audience isn’t big enough to sustain two major cable networks.
Viewers also don’t want a dull network that is down the middle and devoid of personality because they are trying to cater to the right.
The only thing that Chris Licht has proven himself to be good at so far is alienating viewers and driving them away from CNN.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association