It’s a year of reckoning for CNN. After an outrage-fueled uptick in viewership during the Donald Trump era, the network is fighting a ratings slump and bracing for the exit of its longtime president, Jeff Zucker. The departing anchor Brooke Baldwin blasted the network’s culture last week as male-dominated and a bit of a boys’ club — a claim “CNN Tonight” host Don Lemon disputes in this conversation with Kara Swisher.
Lemon has been at the network for over a decade and built his brand with a prime-time slot that has been called therapy for Trump haters. His approach is emblematic of an era in which the American media diet has shifted from a wholesome balanced meal (think Walter Cronkite) to a sugar-laden hash of angry prime-time programming (think Fox News). CNN is somewhere in the middle. And no one else at the network sighs with as much exasperation or rants quite as well as Don Lemon does.
Kara and Lemon discuss what is behind this exasperation, whether cable news will become more or less personality-driven with time and how CNN will emerge from its post-Trump slump. They also discuss Lemon’s new book, “This Is the Fire: What I Say to My Friends About Racism.”
This episode contains strong language.
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Special thanks to Shannon Busta and Liriel Higa.
“Sway” is hosted by Kara Swisher, produced by Nayeema Raza, Blakeney Schick, Heba Elorbany, Matt Kwong and Daphne Chen, and edited by Nayeema Raza and Paula Szuchman; fact-checking by Kate Sinclair; music and sound design by Isaac Jones; mixing by Erick Gomez.