David Zaslav, the CEO of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, yet again stood up for his overhaul of the struggling cable network, which has faced intense criticism since ditching its left-leaning commentary.
Zaslav said CNN’s team is “working hard” to reposition the network, and that “Republicans are back on the air” at CNN while speaking at the MoffettNathanson Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in New York on Thursday, according to Variety.
He went on to say that CNN’s notoriously “left-leaning” brand was changing, and cited a YouGov poll that found an 11-point improvement in US viewers’ trust in CNN, Variety reported.
That same report, conducted April 3-9, 2023, asked 1,516 adult Americans how trustworthy they rate news organizations. CNN was rated 26% trustworthy — the same as Fox and MSNBC.
“Our view is, there’s advocacy networks on either side. We have the best journalists in the world. We need to show both sides of every issue,” he said at the conference.
“CNN should be the place that people come for the best version of the truth and for journalism,” he added.
The 63-year-old media boss went on to address CNN’s attempts to rebuild itself as a network that addresses “both sides” of an issue rather than being an “advocacy network,” adding that the likes of CNN CEO Chris Licht are “working hard” to reposition the network.
Licht, CNN’s 51-year-old boss who took the job more than a year ago, was reportedly handpicked by Zaslav to “be an advocate for the truth.”
He was tapped to lead the network away from its scandalous past that was capped off when former CEO Jeff Zucker resigned from the network in early 2022 after he failed to disclose a romantic relationship with another senior executive at the company.
Most recently, CNN’s under fire for airing the damaging Trump town hall event from May 10, which Zaslav didn’t speak on during his time onstage at the MoffettNathanson Conference.
CNN didn’t immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.
While Trump’s CNN town hall appearance brought 3.3 million viewers to the ratings-beleaguered network — the most it’s seen in two years — the event proved to be an outlier.
Friday’s three-hour primetime slot on CNN drew just 335,000 average viewers — placing it not only behind Fox and MSNBC but also fringe outlet Newsmax.
When asked at the MoffettNathanson Conference about the audience dip, Zaslav dodged the question, instead focusing on ad revenue. “CNN is a little bit different, and the economic makeup of CNN is different. But advertisers are interested in CNN again. They don’t want to be part of an advocacy network,” Zaslav said, according to Variety.
He also noted CNN’s digital audience of 150 million.
When speaking on Warner Bros. Discovery overall, Zaslav said, “It’s hard to run a company successfully when you have a real bleeder, when you have a business that’s losing and you don’t have your hands around it,” though he wasn’t referring to CNN but rather HBO Max and Warner Bros, according to Variety.
Earlier this month, Warner Bros. Discovery reported a hefty Q1 loss, which it attributed to “acquisition-related intangible assets” tied to its 2022 merger, which cost the media company $1.81 billion in the first quarter of 2023.
According to the earnings report, Warner Bros. Discovery reported a net loss of $1.07 billion.
However, it’s still moving forward with the May 23 launch of its new flagship streaming service, Max, which will combine programming from HBO Max and Discovery+.
The company’s new bundled service will cost between $9.99 and $19.99 a month.
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