CNN is planning to cut up to 300 jobs, “many being older employees with years at the network,” according to a report on Monday.
According to FTVLive, a website that monitors the television industry, “Word is that just under 200 people will be pink slipped and just over 100 will be offered a buyout.” Staffers are reportedly calling the cuts a “massive brain drain” because so many veteran employees are being given pink slips.
The website obtained an email that Tony Maddox, the executive vice president and managing director of CNN International, shared with staff announcing his departure. “After 21 years I am leaving CNN,” Maddox wrote on Monday. “It has been the honor of my life to work for, and then lead CNN International. What a privilege to make a living doing such important work with truly outstanding people.”
“I always feel enormous pride when I say I am with CNN,” he continued. “This really is a remarkable company. Working for it is real life, amplified. Everything is more intense, vivid, and in the end, so rewarding.”
It’s also more fantastical, some would say.
Maddox said he is looking forward to “a rest” and expressed gratitude for the “extraordinary relationships” that made his time at CNN worthwhile.
The reported cuts come just as CNN is moving many of its New York operations and studios from the Time Warner Center to Hudson Yards.
Aidan McLaughlin, an editor for Mediaite, tweeted that, according to a CNN source, the cable network is not making layoffs, but “more than 100 staffers took part in a voluntary buyout program”
A CNN spox tells me there are no layoffs at the network, but more than 100 staffers took part in a voluntary buyout program https://t.co/Z6bie8WPgi
— Aidan McLaughlin (@aidnmclaughlin) May 6, 2019
CNN host Brian Stelter also knocked down rumors that layoffs were in the works.
There's a rumor making the rounds today about big impending layoffs at CNN. A CNN spokeswoman is knocking it down on the record: "No layoffs." There WERE voluntary buyouts throughout the organization, and about 100 people opted for it.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 6, 2019
It’s not unusual for downsizing companies to offer voluntary buyouts, hoping to avoid layoffs, so we’ll have to wait and see if there is a need for cuts after the voluntary arrangements are agreed to.
The cuts come on the heels of devastating April ratings for CNN, with the lowest number of total viewers in five years. The network’s prime-time lineup plummeted 26 percent in April compared to the same month last year. CNN’s total audience in prime time was a pathetic 767,000. Compare that to Fox News, with 2.395 million viewers and third-place MSNBC with 1.660 million. CNN’s Cuomo Primetime was one of the hardest hit, with a mere 971,000 viewers in April — the worst month in the show’s history. Sean Hannity, Cuomo’s Fox counterpart in the 9 p.m. slot, dominated the ratings with a total audience of 3.086 million. Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight came in second, with 2.834 million viewers and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show was third with 2.630 million viewers.
CNN’s reputation, already in the toilet before the 2016 election, took a major hit when the Mueller report found that Trump neither colluded with the Russians nor obstructed the investigation. Undeterred by the facts (“this is an apple” notwithstanding), CNN decided to continue parading Russia conspiracy theorists through the living rooms of prime-time viewers night after night. A nation exhausted by what has turned out to be a Democrat-orchestrated witch hunt appears to have little patience or energy left for the ongoing theatrics and anti-Trump histrionics at CNN.
There’s no indication that the worst offenders — Chris Cuomo, Brian Stelter, Manu Raju, Don Lemon, and Jim Acosta — are going anywhere. Likely it’s mostly the behind-the-scenes employees — who have nothing to do with the network’s editorial spin — slated lose their jobs. The (mostly white) men who are responsible for sending the ratings into a tailspin with their irresponsible reporting will no doubt keep their corner offices and their cushy multi-million dollar salaries.
Don’t look for CNN to blame themselves for their problems. They will, of course, blame Trump, and by extension, his supporters who refuse to buy what CNN is selling.
Follow me on Twitter @pbolyard