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Don Lemon: CNN Lost Its Backbone After Jeff Zucker Resignation

Lemon called Zucker the “backbone, the glue and the spirit of this company.”

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Last week, the primary story across all news media was the resignation of former CNN President Jeff Zucker, who disclosed a consensual relationship with a fellow executive at the network.

CNN now has an interim group of leaders leading the cable news channel through this time. Despite some of the criticism coming at Zucker, anchor Don Lemon decided to stick up for his former boss, calling him the “backbone, the glue and the spirit of this company.”

“Personal message that I want to deliver at the top of the show,” Lemon said on Friday’s broadcast of “Don Lemon Tonight.” “Lots of folks have been watching, wondering what’s happening.”

“It’s been a really tough day today and a tough few days for us here at CNN. All week really. I didn’t want to talk about it until tonight. So, the truth is we’re all heartbroken because we lost our leader here.”

Lemon went on to thank Zucker for believing that he could handle the task of hosting a nightly news show on one of the major cable news channels in the country.

“We lost the man who was the backbone, the glue, and the spirit of this company. The man I personally credit with changing my life, a man who believed in me when nobody else did; he’s the reason that you have a gay Black man with two hours of primetime,” Lemon said.

“A show with my name on it. The only anchor of color in primetime on cable news. Think about that. You want to talk about diversity? Here it is: it has been hard to come into work this week, not only for me but for so many of us here at CNN, my colleagues – 3,000 of us. More than 3,000 of us.”

The CNN anchor also took the opportunity to talk to his colleagues who haven’t been around the company for as long as he has and saw the network’s ups and downs.

“So, let me just say this to my colleagues who may not have been here as long as I have, the younger folks, who haven’t weathered these storms: I’ve been at this network for almost 16 years. We have been through ups and downs, ratings highs, ratings lows. Everything,” Lemon said.

“Regime changes. We’ve been through a lot. And through it all, our mission has remained the same, to deliver the facts, to deliver the news. It is what we did when Ted Turner turned the lights on here. It is what we did through two Gulf wars, through 9/11, through Katrina, through an insurrection.”

News Television

Sinclair CEO Says Political Environment Is “Very Good for Our Business”

Sinclair’s CEO, Chris Ripley, offered his perspective on political ads at the MoffettNathanson 9th Annual Media and Communications Summit.

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The midterm elections are here, and according to one television executive, it’s the best time considering the amount of political advertisement money pouring into stations at the local and national. 

One key beneficiary of that cash inflow is Sinclair Broadcast Group, the No. 2 owner of local TV stations in the U.S. The company’s CEO, Chris Ripley, offered his perspective on political ads at the MoffettNathanson 9th Annual Media and Communications Summit.

“Some of these primary races are crazy,” Ripley said, per Deadline. “On the one hand, I lament that we’re in the political environment that we are. On the other hand, it’s very good for our business.”

Ripley used an example to make a point with his claim, citing U.S. Senate candidate J.D. Vance who won his primary race after spending a heavy amount ont television ads. 

Furthermore, the television executive adds that the $75 million spent on TV ads for the primary was 40 times more than what was spent on the primary in the last election. Ripley also added that spending on ballots is also up and should continue to increase as issues like abortion and legal gambling arise. 

“More and more issues are going on direct ballots,” he said. “With what’s going on with abortion rights, that’s going to just even add to that category.” Legalizing sports betting or cannabis are other issues generating significant ad spending.

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NBC News Correspondent Pete Williams to Retire

Williams will remain with NBC News through July before calling it a career. 

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NBC News has announced Justice Department and Supreme Court correspondent Pete Williams will be retiring from the company. The reporter has been with the network for nearly three decades and has been at the forefront of many breaking news stories in Washington, DC. 

“Pete has been one of the nation’s foremost authorities covering the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice for nearly three decades,” NBC News President Noah Oppenheim said in a memo to staff

“His career has been defined by his reputation for accuracy, reliability, and unmatched expertise in the subjects he covers.” 

Williams has covered various topics for NBC News, including the court cases dealing with the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality. Earlier this year, the correspondent was the one who reported the news that Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer would retire at the end of the current term.

“In short, for generations of NBC News reporters, working alongside Pete has been a daily masterclass in journalism. But perhaps more importantly, it has been a masterclass in what it means to be a good colleague,” Oppenheim added.

“Pete’s decency, kindness, and generosity are unmatched. For those that know Pete well, it’s his warmth, humor, wit, and compassion that will be missed most.”

Williams will remain with NBC News through July before calling it a career. 

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Chris Licht: CNN Must Be Beacon of Journalism to Functional Democracy

“Now, the next chapter of CNN is one where we aspire to be a beacon for the kind of journalism essential to a functioning democracy,” Licht said

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CNN’s new president Chris Licht shed some light on the direction he plans to take the company at the Warner Bros. Discovery upfront. 

Licht spoke at the presentation alongside Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who expressed that CNN will be organized “to advocate for journalism first” and deliver for viewers “seeking more accurate information and less yelling and conflict.”

Furthermore, Licht proposed similar aspirations as he summarized his plan for the cable news channel to double down on what many might call sane news. 

“Now, the next chapter of CNN is one where we aspire to be a beacon for the kind of journalism essential to a functioning democracy,” Licht said, per Mediaite.

“In a time where extremes are dominating cable news, we will seek to go a different way — reflecting the real lives of our viewers and elevating the way America and the world views this medium.”

The new CNN president also vows to “challenge the traditional philosophy of cable news, delivering programming and commentary that questions the status quo, shatters group-think, holds our leaders on both sides of the aisle accountable to facts, and fights fearlessly to get to the truth.”

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