Chris Licht/CNN


The reason Zaslav changed the name to Max from HBO Max is because he wants all the credit if it succeeds, and if it doesn’t…he’s been paid more than $247 million since 2018: Quick, name the previous head of Discovery, never mind the top exec at a movie studio. You can’t. They’re not the titans they once were. So when they’re gone, they live the life of kings, they’re almost all male, and who cares if anybody knows their name, they’re a permanent member of the U.S. elite, always flying private, living behind gates, vacationing at not only hotels, but locations you’ve never heard of. As for those still with their knickers in a twist about what I said about the outsized press fascination with “Succession”:

“The data found that ‘Succession’ was covered six times more than any other show analyzed, but saw the second lowest average readership of that coverage.”

“Media’s ‘Succession’ obsession”:

Read this Axios article, it won’t even take you a minute. It’s got charts and everything. I know, it doesn’t feel right, but feel is what got us into this mess. The data doesn’t lie.

Then again, it can be manipulated.

Cable news… One can argue whether it’s even news anymore. But Zaslav and Malone, distanced from reality, the former knowing power, the latter knowing how to never pay taxes, decided we needed a news outlet in the middle, that was not perceived as biased, you know, facts only so that most of America will be happy watching it.

But this theorized middle doesn’t exist.

Perry Bacon, Jr. wrote a great piece about this in the “Washington Post”:

“CNN’s Chris Licht showed the problem with anti-woke centrism”:

That’s a free link, check it out.

“Licht and Elon Musk, who has expressed similar sentiments, control two hugely important media platforms. Their views matter. That they have become consumed by this anti-wokeism has meant that great journalists were fired at CNN for being too anti-Trump and that Twitter’s verification system was disabled it seemed because Musk felt it gave too much prominence to left-wing people.”

The old white guys in power see their power being eroded, that’s the reason they’re so anti-woke.

Then again, the meaning of woke has been twisted, and most people have no idea what it means anyway. And just like Antifa, woke extremists…are miniscule in number, nowhere near the number of white nationalists, but the right has fought back and Zaslav and Malone therefore want to shift CNN to a theoretical middle. This is like saying the Nuggets are better than the Knicks, so in contests the Knicks should be spotted twenty points. But that’s not how the game works. Then again, we’ve got Trump losing by millions of votes and saying he won. And even though Fox News paid nearly a billion dollars as a result of fanning the flames of this false narrative, those who believed it still do.

There is no middle, it’s us vs. them. Those in the middle… Are almost always trying to protect their assets. They’re people who made money and want to keep it, don’t want their taxes raised. Or are fearful of a left wing extremism that barely exists. But if you say something long enough, the public believes it. Like the abrasiveness and incompetence of Kamala Harris. In truth, Harris is nearly a cipher, as most VPs are. She’s had very little to do and we don’t know what she does. But the right has lambasted and defined her, and the left…is silent.

Then again, it’s hard to win by playing it safe. Want to be scared, read this analysis of Biden’s frailties from the front page of the “New York Times”:

“Inside the Complicated Reality of Being America’s Oldest President – President Biden is asking voters to keep him in the White House until age 86, renewing attention to an issue that polls show troubles most Americans.”: (This too is a free link.)

“Like many his age, Mr. Biden repeats phrases and retells the same hoary, often fact-challenged stories again and again.”

My mother started repeating herself in her eighties. Many people do. I speak to a lot of octogenarians… You’d be surprised how many have lost a step, even musicians in their seventies. Of course I know sharp eightysomethings, but do I want to make this bet, when Biden is already showing signs of age? Of course not, most people don’t. But the same people who are convinced that “Succession” was great and the most popular show on TV will e-mail me and tell me to STFU and just vote for Biden, what he’s done is great and he can beat Trump, since he did it before. Past is prologue, but the contest doesn’t always play out the same way. Back to sports analogies, how often does one team beat the other four straight in the finals? It happens, but it’s a minority of the time.

But one can’t even talk about a Biden replacement, the inept Democratic brass has kept everybody on the sidelines as the mass of candidates fight for attention on the right, Trump in the news every day. You think this is a winning strategy? As for Biden taking the stage with Trump… Eegads, one misstep and… And speaking of missteps, how much is Biden going to deteriorate in the next eighteen months? One faux pas will kill his chances, believe me.

But I guess I’m too woke. Anybody to the left of you who doesn’t agree with you is considered woke. We’ve got to reset the balance. We’ve got to go back to an era in history when politics wasn’t such a blood sport. But that was eons ago, before many voters were even born.

And speaking of faux pas, Chris Licht would probably still have his job if it weren’t for the CNN town hall with Trump. Yes, one event put the knife in him. And he didn’t even realize the tragedy until long after the Thrilla in New Hampsha was over, that’s how out of touch and delusional he was. And still is.

Yes, one of the first things he did was to move his office downstairs from the bullpen, unlike his predecessor Jeff Zucker who was in on the action. It’d be like the lead singer living in a different town and never showing up in the studio when the rest of the band was there. How long would that group stay together?

And the reason CNN hosted Trump was for ratings. It’s all about the Benjamins, always. A lot of people would tune in and CNN would be back in the game. Completely overlooking the content of said town hall.

It’s like Zaslav removing content from HBO Max, er Max, to make the numbers work. It’d be like going into Bloomingdale’s or Walmart and seeing a third of the merchandise gone. Maybe it wasn’t merchandise you bought, but someone did, otherwise it wouldn’t appear. So the store gets smaller and… This is how Eddie Lampert put Sears out of business, self-dealing all the while. He stayed rich, the employees of the retailer? They’re with the workers from Toys “R” Us, out on the street. And god forbid they hit rock bottom. To get assistance they’ve got to work, talk about a conundrum.

Jamelle Bouie wrote a great column on this:

“The Republican Obsession With ‘Work Requirements’ Is Telling”:

That’s another free link, but you won’t read the article, you don’t have time, you know the truth anyway.

But you don’t. The bottom line is work requirements just reduce enrollment. People stop applying for assistance. Meanwhile, the cost of policing work oftentimes exceeds the financial benefit.

Doesn’t feel right, but that’s the truth.

Which begs the question, what else don’t you know?

Then again, you’ve got a life, most probably didn’t get this far in this screed, they don’t want to read about politics, More Music! But you should be paying attention, because in truth the ticket brokers are trying to pass bills that supposedly benefit the public but actually hurts people, to protect the brokers’ business. And Live Nation is on the right side of this. But don’t we hate Live Nation? But you’d rather complain ignorantly why you can’t get a good ticket at a low price. When in truth the acts are in control of pricing and Ticketmaster is paid to take the heat. Once again, what feels right is not.

So CNN comes up with this cockamamie theory that by driving down a theoretical middle it will be triumphant. Isn’t this what killed broadcast television? Turns out the masses want more edge, and more nuggets of truth. A news outlet with no edge that fits the agenda of fat cat Republicans like John Malone… Yes, these media outlets are owned by white men, not only fattening their wallets, look at the insane Gannett situation, but furthering their agendas.

But the problem is with the failing “New York Times.” Which is not failing, but burgeoning, and the owners of the paper have a fraction of the cash of those purchasing media outlets to have their voices heard. News is not about making money, it’s about power, plain and simple. That’s why you become a writer. That’s why you become an artist. And once you lose that vision you’re neither a writer nor an artist. Once the money comes first. The chart manipulations, the trumpeting of sold out shows, that becomes the message, not the underlying music. Believe me, the truth can stand by itself. But everybody is convinced this isn’t the case, they want an edge.

And the public is sitting by the wayside, scratching its head.

As soon as CNN announced its new “centrist” policy, viewers left. Go to the website, it’s trying to catch your eye, like Fox, it’s not focused first and foremost on the news, that’s not good enough.

And this full scale discrimination against the talent. That’s who people see on TV! And enough with the lauding of Kaitlin Collins. She started at the “Daily Caller,” Tucker Carlson’s outlet, and she has a long history of Republicanism. Do Zaslav and Licht think the public doesn’t know this? That everybody watching cable news is ignorant and uninformed? If I want my news from this kind of person, I’ll go to Fox and get the real thing. As for something more honest and down to earth, I’ll watch Rachel Maddow, who went to Stanford and got a Rhodes scholarship and went to Oxford as opposed to the beautiful young graduate of the University of Alabama. But wait, isn’t that discriminatory? Of course it is! But we’re talking about those who actually watch cable news, and there’s a good chance you do not, very few do. You may hate Maddow, but her acolytes love her, because she evidences intelligence, sets the day’s news in the context of history, she explains it all. That’s a star, not a pretty face.

But Zaslav and Licht believe news is show business. Then why is the CNN reporter with the most gravitas, the most respect, Christine Amanpour? She might evidence less showbiz than any other person on cable news, but viewers don’t care, Amanpour stands for incisiveness, for truth. She had the balls to testify as to Licht’s mistake with the Trump town hall. That turned the screw. Licht didn’t see it coming. I mean if you work for the organization, you’re loyal. Organization first, right?

This is the problem across the board in America. How dare you complain about your job at Amazon, Starbucks or Apple. Why would you form a union for more? And why are these executives fighting unions? Primarily to keep their stock price up. But really, they don’t want to cede an iota of control, they want to continue to be the boss.

And if you are the boss, you keep your head down, out of the news. What was Chris Licht thinking by allowing an “Atlantic” reporter to follow him around. I’ll argue quite strongly that the book “The Operator” put a dent in David Geffen’s image and power. He already didn’t have enough? He wanted even more?

These people are myopic and money-hungry. These people who position themselves as seers frequently know less than the person on the street, because it’s been a long time since they’ve been on the street, if they ever were.

And they want respect amongst their peers. That’s what the private jet is all about, it’s a dick thing. It’s rarefied air, it’s a club, and you’re not in it. Entertainers, who make their living being in the public eye? That’s a different thing. You put your rented mansion on “Cribs” and move down the line, the public too stupid to understand what is really going on.

And at the end of the day entertainment is always about the money. Whereas with art…the truth comes first.

Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” has many covers, you can check them out here: But in truth, Cohen’s version was never a hit, never close, not even in the league of the Top Forty. But that hit written just a few years ago was never covered and is already forgotten, but the truth in Cohen’s song…

“Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
Everybody knows the war is over
Everybody knows the good guys lost
Everybody knows the fight was fixed
The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
That’s how it goes
Everybody knows”

Everybody knows the redo of CNN wasn’t about truth, but an effort to appease those on the right. But somehow, Licht and Zaslav thought their machinations were unviewable.

And Licht’s main goal was to satisfy Zaslav. Forget his team, forget what was actually on the screen, if it made money… This loyalty is the scourge of modern business, talk about me-too. And the news has no side, doesn’t come with money, it just is. You can’t adjust it, you can just report it. And hasn’t there been enough analysis of false equivalencies? Some things don’t have another side, there is not another opinion. Gravity exists. Why try and tell us otherwise.

But ultimately this is a big win for the press. We haven’t seen the press evidence this power in media since “New York Times” reporter David Carr took down Sam Zell’s adventure in the news, having purchased the Tribune Company, handing power over the news to radio guys. That’s never going to work, never has. Remember newsman Andy Lack being brought into Sony Music? His masterstroke? The rootkit and the ensuing fiasco. By bringing in outsiders you show no respect to the people who’ve been doing the work for decades. News is a professional business. Just because you’ve got a theory, an opinion, that does not mean you can run it.

Kinda like Licht.

I mean look at the reputation of “The Atlantic.” Laurene Powell Jobs pouring in all that money. Do you think it was about making a ton of money? Of course not, it was about truth. Anybody who reads the “Atlantic” knows this. And with the right story, it doesn’t matter how big the outlet is, especially in the internet age, it spreads.

Chris Licht will go back to entertainment. Zaslav will hand the reins off to others until he too loses his job. Man, look at his record, talk about destroying value.

What are these guys thinking?

They’re not. These are not doctors, even engineers. These businesses are run by personalities, bullies, who believe their crap doesn’t stink.

But it does.

And everybody knows.

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