A CNN executive went after Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Jennifer Rubin for attacking his network with a “reckless and offensive” op-ed calling CNN a “laughingstock” after it hosted a Trump town hall two weeks ago.
“You are entitled to your opinion but it is reckless and offensive to label the thousands of CNN employees who work tirelessly around the world as a ‘laughingstock’ because you disagree with the merits of a single event…That’s not championing journalism. It’s shameful.” Matt Dornic, head of strategic communications for CNN Worldwide, wrote to Rubin in a scathing statement posted to Twitter.
Rubin’s op-ed in The Washington Post attacked the newly branded CNN under CEO Chris Licht as a “laughingstock and a ratings loser” uncommitted to “real” journalism.
“If you aren’t a practitioner of real journalism, you might wind up hiring former aides of an administration that engaged in nonstop lying and treating MAGA Republicans with kid gloves so as not to lose access. You find yourself filling hour after hour with panelists regurgitating the news someone else broke rather than bringing new information to your audience. In other words, you wind up with CNN of 2023, a journalistic laughingstock and a ratings loser,” Rubin wrote.
CNN’S CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR CALLS OUT BOSS CHRIS LICHT, OFFERS STUNNING REBUKE OF TRUMP TOWN HALL
Dornic also rebutted the columnist’s argument the network’s reputation was tarnished by hiring analysts who used to work for the Trump administration.
“Neither is relevant to your argument as those commentators, along with dozens of paid contributors, have departed in favor of a [news] packages over punditry position. In fact, we are airing 30% more traditional news packages from our correspondents today than a year ago,” Dornic wrote.
“And with all due respect, someone paid by MSNBC ought to not throw stones about panelists and the hiring of former WH aides,” he shot back.
MSNBC hired former Biden White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki as a political analyst last year before giving her a Sunday hosting gig this spring.
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In her op-ed, Rubin suggested CNN’s Christiane Amanpour would be a better fit to helm the network, after she called out her boss Chris Licht during a commencement speech given to the 2023 graduates of the Columbia Journalism School.
In her speech, the veteran journalist said she confronted Licht about the polarizing town hall which upset some of CNN’s staff.
“My management believes they did the right thing as service to the American people,” she told graduates. “I still respectfully disagree with allowing Donald Trump to appear in that particular format.”
Rubin latched on to Amanpour’s complaints and attacked the network for being too loose in reigning in the former president. She also called for Amanpour to replace Chris Licht at its helm.
“Licht’s alleged encouragement of Trump to ‘have fun’ and his refusal to acknowledge the fundamental error in presenting Trump in this fashion should disqualify him from management of a major news outlet. Instead of Licht, the cable news network that created the medium of cable news might consider putting a real journalist at the top of the organization,” Rubin wrote.
Dornic’s statement did not address Rubin’s suggestion that Amanpour should be hired for Licht’s position.
Amanpour wasn’t alone in her sentiments about the town hall, which reportedly outraged other CNN staffers and led reporter Oliver Darcy to cover the backlash in the “Reliable Sources” newsletter.
“CNN and new network boss Chris Licht are facing a fury of criticism — both internally and externally over the event,” Darcy wrote.
Several liberal reporters and Democrats were angry at CNN as well calling the town hall “astoundingly bad for the brand of CNN.”
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“The problem is a media establishment and a Republican Party that is dedicated to normalizing a radical and dangerous political figure. Applause and ratings are not more important than our democracy,” The Bulwark writer and former CNN analyst Amanda Carpenter tweeted.