CNN staff 'terrified' after Brian Stelter and John Harwood were fired
CNN staffers are ‘terrified’ that new boss Chris Licht is launching a purge of the woke after Brian Stelter and John Harwood were unceremoniously fired – as network tries to win back ‘most trusted name in news’ title
- CNN staffers are afraid of a purge of woke talent following the firings of White House reporter John Harwood and Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter
- The firings are seen as evidence that new boss Chris Licht wants to cast out those who have been critical of Trump and his allies
- Licht wrote in a company-wide memo that he wanted to present a more neutral CNN and win back its ‘most trusted name in news’ title
- But staffers say there is no clear blueprint and they are left scared for their jobs
- CNN viewers are speculating that anchors could be next, including Don Lemon
CNN staffers said they fear a network-wide purge of top talent after Brian Stelter and White House correspondent John Hardwood were unceremoniously fired.
After Hardwood announced his surprise departure on Friday, just hours after reporting from the White House, current and former CNN employees told the The Washington Post that there appears to be a culling of the woke at the media outlet.
Both Hardwood and Stelter, the host of Reliable Sources who was fired last month, saw their contracts terminated prematurely.
It’s seen as evidence that new boss Chris Licht is looking to cast out those who have been critical of Donald Trump and his allies in order to present a more neutral CNN and win back its ‘most trusted name in news’ title.
One CNN journalist told the Post: ‘People are freaked out. It almost feels like there’s a pattern. Is there a purge going on?
‘They seem to be sending a message: “Watch what you say. Watch what you do.'”
CNN staffers are afraid of a network-wide purge of woke talent following the sudden firings of WH correspondent John Harwood (left) and Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter (right)
The firings are seen as evidence that new boss Chris Licht (above) is looking to cast out those who have been critical of Donald Trump and his allies in order to present a more neutral CNN
In a memo to staff in May, Licht, who was appointed to the network by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, said CNN needed to regain the trust of the people.
He said the outlet needed to focus on ‘fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning ‘group-think,’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing viewpoints.’
CNN journalists, however, say the new boss has done little to elaborate on what his vision entails and what reporters should do to avoid coming off as partisan when reporting about major issues.
‘I think they’re hoping people will just guess what to do,’ one journalist told the Post.
Another employee also criticized the network’s lack of explanations over the recent firings, saying: ‘Longtime CNN personalities are disappearing, and the viewers don’t know why.’
Viewers were speculating online that anchors could be next, with Don Lemon, a lightning rod for the right, being mentioned. Other popular anchors on the possible chopping block included Jim Acosta and Jake Tapper.
A veteran producer, who like the others spoke on the condition of anonymity over concerns about their jobs, said the recent departures and unclear messaging spells trouble for the network ahead of the upcoming midterm elections.
‘It’s a really confusing and unsettling time from top to bottom at CNN,’ the producer told the Post. ‘I don’t know anyone who is happy right now.’
In a statement about Harwood’s firing, CNN said: ‘We appreciate John’s work covering the White House, and we wish him all the best.’
CNN viewers were speculating online that anchors could be next including Don Lemon (above)
CNN’s Jim Acosta (left) and Jake Tapper (right) could also be on the chopping block over their past criticisms of former president Trump
Harwood, 65, has a long and storied career that includes stints at the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and CNBC.
He tweeted at noon on Friday that he had ‘personal news’ to share, and said ‘today’s my last day at CNN.’
The reporter, who has been with CNN since 2021, said he’s ‘proud of the work’ and thanked his colleagues.
Harwood was a vocal critic of Trump, and earlier this year he said Trump was ‘mentally unwell.’
During his last day on the job, Harwood called Trump a ‘dishonest demagogue’ and agreed with Joe Biden’s divisive speech calling the former president and his MAGA supporters ‘a threat’ to American democracy.
Harwood admitted his statements veered off the path of journalism but maintained his criticisms against Trump’s unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen.
‘We are brought up to believe there’s two different political parties with different points of view and we don’t take sides in honest disagreements between them,’ he said.
‘But that’s not what we’re talking about. These are not honest disagreements.’
Former CNN contributor Wajahat Ali told the Post that Harwood’s backtracking was most likely intentional to save face after being fired.
Stelter’s show, which competed against Fox News’ ‘MediaBuzz,’ did not match up in war for viewership
Ali suggested that the firings were a way to get the message across to the rest of CNN’s staff to keep opinions out of their reports.
Harwood’s departure comes less than a month after CNN mainstay Brian Stelter was forced out of the network when they cancelled his Sunday media show Reliable Sources.
Stelter was reportedly summoned to Licht’s office and left looking ‘ashen.’
The show has struggled, however, in its ratings war with Fox News.
Fox’s rival show, MediaBuzz, has averaged 1.5 million viewers this year, while Reliable Sources had 787,000.
The in-house loss of staff members comes after CNN shut down its CNN+ streaming service after less than a month of it being online.
That decision led to 239 employees being laid off.
Source: Read Full Article