Earlier I wrote about the changes afoot at CNN after the Discovery/Time Warner merger elevated 2 TFG fans to running the show. Both of them want CNN to be less partisan and also to be nicer to the FOX News network, and thus more attractive to FOX News viewers. This week we saw some of the concrete changes.
First we saw whatever this was:
Holy shit. A CNN panel member just compared a Trump rally speaker supporting literal Nazis to the background of Biden’s speech featuring a US Marine as both being “issues with optics.” pic.twitter.com/RqcuhXjwjs
— No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen (@NoLieWithBTC) September 5, 2022
Then there was this hire:
CNN’s newest pundit is John Miller, a former top New York police officer with a history of misleading the public.
Miller will join the network as the chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst. The move appears to be part of a larger right-ward shift and very public identity crisis at CNN, as new CEO Chris Licht has pushed out high-profile on-air talent that was critical of Donald Trump. (CNN also hired CBS’s Dr. Tara Narula as a medical correspondent.)
Miller is a prominent example of the revolving door between law enforcement and media, having been both a journalist and NYPD spokesperson over the course of his career. He also epitomizes the danger of treating law enforcement as neutral or reliable sources of information, rather than propagandists. Miller’s long history of deceiving the public is strong evidence that Licht’s reign at CNN will be defined by attempts to win favor with conservatives rather than inform the network’s audience.
There’s a lot of detail at that link.
Then CNN’s CEO, Chris Licht, fired Brian Stelter and John Harwood for their strident anti-fascism. The rest of the staff got the message:
Licht has provided one such avenue over the past several weeks: He has spoken through the firings of on-air talent perceived as providing insufficient deference to the right. Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter, a harsh critic of Fox and former President Donald Trump’s treatment of the mainstream media, lost his job last month. Veteran White House correspondent John Harwood, who had denounced Trump’s attacks on democracy, was shown the door on Friday. In each case, media reporters stressed that the firings were part of what the Washington Post termed Licht’s “strategy shift,” with the chairman purging journalists that were perceived as critics of Trump and his allies “to present a new, more ideologically neutral CNN.”
The message Licht’s firings send to CNN journalists is crystal clear: Too much criticism of the right, which remains united behind Trump and champions the election denial that triggered the January 6 insurrection, may cost you your job. And to inoculate themselves against that critique, some at the network are seemingly going out of their way to channel right-wing attacks against President Joe Biden.
Then we saw the most obvious shift, when Brianna Keilar tweeted this about Joe Biden’s excellent speech about the fascists in the Republican Party.
Whatever you think of this speech the military is supposed to be apolitical. Positioning Marines in uniform behind President Biden for a political speech flies in the face of that. It’s wrong when Democrats do it. It’s wrong when Republicans do it.
— Brianna Keilar (@brikeilarcnn) September 2, 2022
She then spent THREE DAYS complaining about it. It’s disheartening to see Licht’s open cynicism and greed, and it’s disheartening to see Keilar’s eagerness to make shit up for the approval of a bunch of deplorables AND somehow not know she’s debasing herself for nothing.
And the cozying up to fascists isn’t limited to TV. On Tuesday the Washington Post reported that Politico’s owner, Mathias Döpfner, has a similiar goal:
A newcomer to the community of billionaire media moguls, Döpfner is given to bold pronouncements and visionary prescriptions. He’s concerned that the American press has become too polarized — legacy brands like the New York Times and The Washington Post drifting to the left, in his view, while conservative media falls under the sway of Trumpian “alternative facts.” So in Politico, the fast-growing Beltway political journal, he sees a grand opportunity.
“We want to prove that being nonpartisan is actually the more successful positioning,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. He called it his “biggest and most contrarian bet.”
OK, so that doesn’t sound that bad, right? Well, there’s more:
His own politics have remained something of a mystery, too. But weeks before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, he sent a surprising message to his closest executives, obtained by The Washington Post:
“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?”
His email was inspired by a news story he shared about the government’s plans to sue Google for abuse of market dominance, an animating issue of his for years. But Döpfner went on to argue that Trump had made the right moves on five of what he deemed the six most important issues of the last half century — “defending the free democracies” against Russia and China, pushing NATO allies to up their contributions, “tax reforms,” and Middle East peace efforts, as well as challenging tech monopolies — if falling short, he implied, on climate change.
“No American administration in the last 50 years has done more,” Döpfner concluded.
Oh and he denied the email existed and when he was shown it, he said it was a joke. Mmmmmhmmmm. And here’s the latest output from this neutral, nonpartisan outlet:
I'm not saying that Mathias Döpfner is directly ordering Politico to print the most brainless, feverish, simpering right-wing twaddle imaginable, but this would be Exhibit A (yes it's a "news" story): https://t.co/3ssgSQwmcz pic.twitter.com/LHlzuo5A2v
— Dan Froomkin/PressWatchers.org (@froomkin) September 8, 2022
It doesn’t matter how many people Licht fires for not being fascist-friendly enough. It doesn’t matter how “neutral” Politico becomes (and let’s face it–Politico is a mouthpiece for rightwingers and has been since its inception). The true believers at FOX and Newsmax aren’t going to switch networks or websites. It’s the equivalent of Republicans now suddenly scrubbing their campaign websites of their opposition to abortion. And it won’t work in either case.
I’ll leave you with this: