Discovery Board Member John Malone Lauds Fox News Before Saying He Wants CNN to Evolve ‘Back to Actual Journalism’


John Malone appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box Thursday morning and revealed that he is eager to see CNN return to “the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists.”

Malone isn’t some run-of-the-mill media baron either. He’s a member of the board of Discovery Inc., in addition to being the longtime chairman of Liberty Media, and a long-time cable news pioneer.

As the leading shareholder in Discovery and reportedly a chief architect in the merger of Discovery and CNN, his comments about the role that a news network would play in a future streaming world merit significant attention.

CNBC Anchor David Faber asked Malone if there is any place for news in a streaming network, admitting that he didn’t know if CNN would be a “value add or not” to the potentially merged media behemoth.

Malone replied in a self-effacing way, admitting that he could be “partially blamed for the creation of a lot of news networks,” including CNBC. It’s not clear why he feels like there needs to be any blame. He then answered a question clearly about his vision for how CNN will work in a merged company, by first lauding top-rated competitor, Fox News.

“Fox News, in my opinion,  has followed an interesting trajectory of trying to have news news, I mean some actual journalism, embedded in a program schedule of all opinions,” Malone replied. “And I think they’ve been relatively successful with a service like Bret Baier, and Brit Hume before him, that try to distinguish news from opinion.”

“I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing,” he continued, which can only be viewed as a bad omen for the journalists currently under CNN’s employ.

“I do believe good journalism could have a role in this future portfolio that Discovery-TimeWarner’s going to represent,” he added after but is not included in the clip excerpted above.

In May of this year, news broke that telecom giant AT&T would be spinning off WarnerMedia assets it acquired in 2018. Turner Broadcasting properties and HBO were listed among the assets included in the deal, and the future of CNN and its CEO Jeff Zucker became rosier given his relationship with Discovery CEO David Zaslav.

Malone’s comments suggesting he wants CNN to become more like Fox News, however, cannot be an encouraging message for CNN’s current leadership.

Watch above via CNBC.

(H/T Matt Negrin)

Ed. note – this post has been edited to correctly identify John Malone as a Discovery Board Member and not its chair.

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