If ever there was evidence that the media landscape of the establishment is in a state of complete and utter upheaval, this is it.
CNN, not exactly a ratings juggernaut, appears to be a divided house after Wednesday’s decision to transmit former President Donald Trump’s first town hall.
New York Post-obtained audio recordings paint a picture of a news network in complete disarray, despite the many tangible benefits of hosting Trump’s inaugural town hall, such as a massive boost in ratings and social media cachet (though CNN may not appreciate the latter), despite the fact that Trump’s appearance resulted in a massive increase in ratings.
“You do not have to like the former president’s answers, but you can’t say that we didn’t get them,” CNN CEO Chris Licht told agitated employees, according to audio acquired by the Post.
Licht added that CNN “[m]ade a lot of news” and stressed “that is our job.”
Kaitlan Collins, the CNN correspondent and presenter who moderated the town hall, was reportedly defended by CNN’s top executive, despite numerous complaints about her interactions with Trump. Collins was an abrasive, interrupting presence for conservatives. Collins was the victim of maltreatment, if you’re a liberal.)
“Kaitlan is in a no-win situation,” an unnamed CNN staffer told The Washington Post. “I can’t believe anyone thought this was a good idea.”
A different, unidentified CNN employee described the entire town hall as a “[t]otal debacle.”
Oliver Darcy, a media reporter for CNN, criticized his employer in his newsletter for confronting “internal and external pressure over the event.”
If you needed further evidence that the Trump town hall has shaken CNN to its core, look no further than CNN anchor Anderson Cooper’s peculiar, apologetic, and condescending monologue.
“Many of you are upset that someone who attempted to destroy our democracy was invited to sit on a stage in front of a crowd of Republican voters to answer questions and predictably continued to spew lie after lie after lie,” Cooper said to begin his show on Thursday.
“And I get it, it was disturbing.”
Cooper added: “Now, many of you think CNN shouldn’t have given him any platform to speak. And I understand the anger about that, giving him the audience, the time — I get that.”
Fox News, the network that used to be the apple of the former president’s eye, is still in the midst of coping with its Tucker Carlson-based ratings collapse, while CNN deals with the repercussions from its Trump-based ratings surge.
MSNBC, the other “Big Three” establishment media network, still employs Jenn Psaki and Joy Reid, so it has its own profound, troubling issues to address, regardless of how much it has benefited from the chaos engulfing the other two networks.
If you are at all interested in the media landscape, it is difficult to imagine a more turbulent period for the large, established networks.