After new CNN CEO Chris Licht spent months making a series of dumb moves that sent ratings plummeting, he tried a hail mary this week by holding a “Trump town hall” with a pro-Trump audience. The entire thing was an offensive disaster, and while it certainly didn’t help Trump any, it was still inexcusable.
Licht has since tried putting out a public statement about how pleased he was with how the town hall went. But that kind of talk is often just damage control. And when longtime high profile CNN host Anderson Cooper issued an embarrassingly awkward and condescending on-air defense of the town hall, it felt like Licht had pushed him into doing it.
But even as the biggest names at CNN either publicly defended the town hall or steered clear of the debacle entirely, one CNN reporter – Oliver Darcy – wrote negatively about it. You may have heard of Darcy, but most people haven’t. Whatever you think of Darcy, he’s relatively low level at the network. It’s unlikely that more than a relative handful of people even saw his criticism of the town hall.
Yet it turns out Chris Licht and CNN’s other top executives reportedly hauled in Darcy so they could hammer him for having dared to criticize the town hall. Suffice it to say that this is not the behavior of a boss who thinks things are going well overall. If Licht truly thought the town hall went well for CNN, and if he truly thought audiences were eventually going to warm up to the changes he’s making at the network, he wouldn’t be worried about trying to silence someone like Darcy. He’d expect it all to just work itself out in the long run.
The kicker is that it appears someone at CNN was offended enough at seeing Licht bully Darcy, that person leaked the whole thing to the media just to make Licht look bad. And that really tells you all you need to know about how badly things are slipping away from Licht. He’s reduced to bullying underlings for daring to question his idiotic decisions. And his other underlings are so fed up with him, they’re making sure the public knows just how badly the whole thing is spiraling.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report