CNN getting more Republicans on-air as it seeks political diversity

CNN holds a town hall event with former President Trump in Manchester

By Helen Coster

NEW YORK (Reuters) - CNN is getting more Republicans on the air as it seeks political diversity, the chief executive of parent company Warner Bros Discovery said on Thursday, adding he and CNN chief Chris Licht have told Republicans “they’re not going to get one more vote on Fox News.”

“Our view is there's advocacy networks on either side," Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav said at the SVB MoffettNathanson Technology, Media and Telecom Conference. "We have the best journalists in the world. We need to show both sides of every issue.”

Advertisers “don’t want to be part of an advocacy network” but they do want to be part of a news network, Zaslav said.

CNN has taken heat for its broadcast of a May 10 town hall with former Republican President Donald Trump. In a contentious 70-minute broadcast, Trump repeated falsehoods about his 2020 election loss, said that if elected he would pardon many supporters convicted of taking part in a Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, and called CNN moderator Kaitlan Collins a "nasty person."

On Wednesday CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour publicly criticized the town hall in remarks at Columbia Journalism School, the first of the network’s on-air talent to do so.

“I still respectfully disagree with allowing Donald Trump to appear in that particular format,” Amanpour said, according to the CNN “Reliable Sources” newsletter Wednesday night.

Suggesting that live TV may not always be the right format for such events, Amanpour said: “Some of the very best and even most fiery, compelling interviews are, in fact, taped and they are edited, not to change the context or the content or the truth or the intent, but to edit for filibuster and a stream of disinformation,” according to the CNN newsletter.

The Trump town hall attracted 3.3 million viewers, making CNN the most-watched cable news network that evening, according to Nielsen data.

(Reporting by Helen Coster in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)