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Former CNN executive says network’s ‘relevance’ is ‘tied to Donald Trump’ despite election outcome

Brittany Jordan

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Whether or not President Trump is re-elected, CNN’s fate is tied to his, according to a former network executive.

A report from Digiday offered insight as to how prominent media outlets like CNN will carry on during a Joe Biden presidency and whether the so-called “Trump Bump” in ratings and clicks will disappear due to his absence.

Former CNN president Jonathan Klein suggested to Digiday that because the “bad guy” or “antagonist” in the story has gone away, so will viewers.

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“Grandpa is a nice guy,” Klein said, perhaps referring to Biden. “Everybody might be relieved to not watch as much cable news anymore and go find a book to read, a garden to plant, or a socially-distanced walk to take.”

Klein, who parted ways with CNN in 2010, told Digiday that Trump “gave journalistic outlets was an audience that felt the urgency” and that despite the ongoing pandemic and civil unrest, “that urgency among 70% of the audience might dissipate a little bit.”

However, an unnamed former CNN executive hinted at a grimmer outcome for the network.

“I don’t think it was any more complicated than that Trump was good for ratings,” the former CNN executive told Digiday, alluding to the network’s increased viewership, which still trails Fox News and MSNBC.

The executive continued, “Make no mistake, it’s a symbiotic relationship. The dramatic rise and relevance of CNN for better or worse is tied to Donald Trump.”

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Despite the suggestion from CNN’s chief media correspondent Brian Stelter on Sunday that anti-Trump news outlets don’t exist, former CNN reporter Peter Hamby acknowledged to Digiday that consumers have “confused ideas about journalism and think it’s supposed to be resistance-y.”

Brittany Jordan is an award-winning journalist who reports on breaking news in the U.S. and globally for the Federal Inquirer. Prior to her position at the Federal Inquirer, she was a general assignment features reporter for Newsweek, where she wrote about technology, politics, government news and important global events around the world. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Toronto Star, Frederick News-Post, West Hawaii Today, the Miami Herald, and more. Brittany enjoys food, travel, photography, and hoarding notebooks and journals. Her goal is to do more longform features journalism, narrative writing and documentary work, and to one day write a successful novel and screenplay.

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