Speaking at the Warner Bros Discovery upfront, new CNN boss Chris Licht delivered his most expansive public comments since taking over from Jeff Zucker, promising a morning show “disruptor” and a challenge to cable news norms.
Licht also said Chris Wallace’s talk show, Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?, has gone back into production and will now stream on HBO Max and air Sunday nights on linear CNN. Wallace decamped from Fox News last year and resurfaced with the series on CNN+ but the abrupt unplugging of that new streaming outlet last month left the show briefly in limbo. Wallace was one of several high-priced hires who joined CNN as it ramped up CNN+. Before his 18 years at Fox, Wallace worked at ABC News and NBC News.
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Refocusing CNN on its straight-news roots is a strategy Licht and Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav have signaled in internal meetings in recent weeks. Licht reaffirmed that plan in his upfronts comments, which followed a declaration from Zaslav that the network would avoid the “yelling” across the dial in TV news.
“Extremes are dominating cable news, we will seek to go a different way,” Licht said. “We intend to challenge the traditional philosophy of cable news.”
The war in Ukraine, he added, is a story that “only we have the resources and commitment to tell.”
Licht said he will “reimagine” CNN’s morning show, though he didn’t lay out any details. “We are seeking to be a disruptor of broadcast morning shows in the space, we believe we have the people and resources to do this,” he said.
Before his run at CBS, where he overhauled its morning show and then spearheaded The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Licht made his reputation by producing Morning Joe on MSNBC.
In a press release put out after Licht’s comments, CNN said Wallace will continue to serve as an anchor for CNN in addition to hosting his series. Wallace said in the release that his is a “rare show built for streaming that gives newsmakers the opportunity to have candid conversations and an open dialogue about the issues of the day and whatever is on their minds.”
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