David Zaslav wants to distinguish CNN from “advocacy networks”.

David Zaslav, head of Warner Bros. Discovery, wants CNN to focus on facts and differentiate itself from a cable news industry he says is being monopolized by “advocacy networks.”

Zaslav, who took the helm of the new company this week, wasted no time in laying out his vision for the media giant, which includes HBO, CNN, TLC, HGTV and Warner Bros. film studio Discovery, which closed last Friday.

In an hour-long interview with Oprah Winfrey Thursday at a theater on Warner Bros. property management in Burbank, Calif., Zaslav addressed questions about the future of CNN, as well as the company’s various streaming offerings and its $3 billion cost-savings plan a.

The CEO told Winfrey that CNN had to be about reporting and truth and facts. “If we get that, we can have a civilized society,” he said. “And without them, when everything becomes advocacy, we don’t have a civilized society.”

David Zaslav
David Zaslav, the CEO of the new Warner Bros. Discovery, said he will focus on increasing CNN’s harsh reporting.
Getty Images for Discovery, Inc.

CNN was under scrutiny for most of the year for handling high-profile scandals under former boss Jeff Zucker. Chief among them was Zucker’s dealings with CNN host Chris Cuomo, whom he fired in December. The presenter was revealed to have secretly supported the defense of his embattled older brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, over sexual molestation allegations, which led to his resignation.

Soon after, Zucker resigned in February, citing a romantic relationship with a co-worker. The Imbroglio caused an uproar among CNN staffers, who were furious at Zucker’s exit and the thought that Cuomo would receive a massive severance pay despite violating journalistic standards around reporting his brother.

But even before that, billionaire media mogul John Malone — a close associate of Zaslav — and board member of the combined company, criticized CNN for its skewed reporting.

The Cable News Network (CNN) logo adorns the top of the CNN offices on the Sunset Strip
CNN has been plagued by scandals in recent months following the departures of host Chris Cuomo and longtime boss Jeff Zucker.
Getty Images

“I’d love to see CNN go back to the kind of journalism it started out with and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,” Malone said during a CNBC interview last November. “I believe good journalism could play a role in this future portfolio that will represent Discovery-TimeWarner.”

Under Zucker’s replacement, Chris Licht, an executive producer with stints on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and MSNBC’s Morning Joe, CNN is expected to receive a makeover that includes more hard news and fewer opinion programs, sources told The Post.

That includes a closer look at the strategy behind the network’s new streaming service, CNN+, and more broadly, a scalpel at layoffs at the media giant’s streaming services like HBO Max and Discovery+.

During Thursday’s meeting, Zaslav warned that staff cuts are likely as he continues to shed management layers and combine jobs. As part of the CEO’s focus on cost savings, he reiterated his plans to combine both services.

A general view shows the stage during a tour prior to a CNN and Facebook sponsored Democratic presidential debate at Wynn Las Vegas
CNN has come under fire for migrating from its journalistic roots to more skewed political reporting.
Getty Images

“We don’t want to go to eight places. We want to go to one place, and we want to see everything we want to see,” Zaslav told Consumer at the time The Wall Street Journal. “When we put everything together, we were much more successful.”

Hollywood insiders were concerned about this strategy as it could bury some of the media giant’s voluminous content. Others were more concerned that Zaslav would focus too much on cost cutting and wondered. when the CEO has the “stomach” to spend on big-budget movies and TV shows to fuel company growth while in cost-cutting mode.

They said Zaslav might have sticker shock since budgets are much larger in film than they are in reality TV, which makes up the bulk of Discovery’s business.

“He’s a very smart guy,” a studio executive told The Post last month, shaking off that concern. “I think he’s up to the task.”

https://nypost.com/2022/04/15/david-zaslav-wants-to-set-cnn-apart-from-advocacy-networks/ David Zaslav wants to distinguish CNN from “advocacy networks”.


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