‘This Company Needs Some New Thinking’: CNN President Quits
NEW YORK (The Blaze/AP) — CNN chief Jim Walton said Friday he is quitting, saying the company needs new leadership at a time its flagship U.S. network is suffering through some of its poorest ratings ever.
Walton built the company into a profitable international news organization in his 10 years as president of CNN Worldwide, and said it is on track for record profits this year. But the U.S. network is the most visible part of the business and is now entrenched in third place behind rivals Fox News Channel and MSNBC in prime time.
He announced the decision in an email to staff members on Friday. He said he’ll continue working until the end of the year during the company’s search for a successor.
Walton said he’s been talking to his boss, Turner Broadcasting Chairman Phil Kent, about leaving since the first few months of the year. CNN is owned by Time Warner.
“There’s always pressure,” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time and CNN has had its ups and downs, like all companies have had ups and downs. I feel really strongly about a number of parts of this company. We’re having a really strong year internationally and in mobile. It’s clear there’s a lot of spotlight on CNN’s U.S. performance and it’s reasonable that there is that spotlight.”
CNN’s U.S. network had its worst-ever ratings for a second quarter, down 40 percent for some of its prime-time shows. The decline was particularly notable in May, when CNN faced tough competition from broadcast networks during a slow news period and its ratings were compared to a year earlier, in the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing.
It hasn’t improved appreciably since then, with veteran newsman Wolf Blitzer often losing in the ratings to broadcast novice Al Sharpton on MSNBC. Piers Morgan’s show has been a bright spot this month.
The network was also embarrassed by initially reporting incorrectly the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on President Obama’s health care law, then taking longer to correct itself than Fox, which made a similar error.
CNN’s ratings traditionally fluctuate based on the intensity of the news. Fox and MSNBC have insulated themselves from that problem somewhat through its partisan prime-time hosts. Walton has allegedly resisted this approach, believing CNN’s strength lies in being “a nonpartisan news source” and the company’s reputation would be damaged worldwide if the U.S. network changed.
“We kind of know who we are and our corporate colleagues know who we are and there has always been great support internally that we’re going to be a news organization,” he said.
At CNN, “we want to be accurate above all else, we want to be timely — first if possible — we want to actually go to where the news is, not just subscribe to some agency’s news feed and talk about it. We want to report the news from multiple sides, all sides, and without bias.”
Walton, 54, began working at CNN in 1981 shortly after it started. His first job involved ripping paper scripts off wire machines and operating the TelePrompter for news anchors.
Jeff Bewkes, Time Warner chairman and CEO, said Walton took over an underperforming company in 2003 and tripled earnings, delivering an annual growth of 15 percent. Roughly half of the company’s earnings come through subscription fees from cable and satellite companies, and they have been growing steadily worldwide.
“Jim has been instrumental in growing the business into the financial powerhouse it has become, while establishing the brand as the worldwide leader for television news,” Bewkes said. “I respect him personally and professionally and support the decision he and Phil Kent have reached.”
Kent said Walton has a track record of great judgment when it matters most. He “challenged the organization to think bigger, reach further, do better,” he said.
“I think this company needs some new thinking,” Walton said. “I’ve been doing this job I’m in now for 10 years and I’m ready for a change.”
Benghazi, IRS, AP...What's next? Only TheBlaze TV offers the truth from Glenn Beck, Andrew Wilkow, and Real News from TheBlaze. Get instant access and a free trial here.
- Shock Video Surfaces: Meat Cleaver-Wielding Man Shouts ‘You People Will Never Be Safe!’ Moments After Gruesome London Attack 482 Comments
- Why Were DHS Agents Seemingly Monitoring Multiple Tea Party IRS Protests Across the Country on Tuesday? 469 Comments
- Confusion Erupts in IRS Hearing After Lois Lerner Tries to Plead the 5th — Watch It All Unfold 460 Comments
- The Tense Exchange Between Rep. Trey Gowdy and the Former IRS Head You’ve Been Waiting for…and It Doesn’t Disappoint 355 Comments
- CNN’s Wolf Blitzer Has Awkward Moment With Okla. Tornado Survivor After Asking If She ‘Thanked the Lord’ 327 Comments
- Beck Issues Challenge to People of Faith in Wake of Okla. Tornado: ‘What Have You Done?’ Read More
- ‘Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad!: Michelle Malkin Rips Progressives, Clashes With Lib Radio Host Over Islamic Terrorism and the London Machete Attack Read More
- Ariz. Lawmaker Surprises Colleagues, Comes Out as an Atheist While Delivering Daily Prayer Read More
- This Is How Texas Politicians Are Fighting Against the Atheist-Led ‘War on Christmas’ Read More
- ‘Unbelievable’: Apparent Thief Leaves $140 & Apology Note on Family’s Doorstep — Find Out Why Read More
- Weekly Unemployment Benefits Tumble Read More
- Why Is This German Company Recruiting Tech Staff With Autism? Read More
- House Votes to Speed up Keystone Pipeline: Here’s Everyone Who Voted for and Against It Read More
- Here are the 7 Most Explosive & Informative Moments from Today’s IRS Hearing Read More
- Foreign Banks Operating on U.S. Soil Have Just Set a Record Read More
- The Incredible Role Facebook Played in the Aftermath of Devastating Okla. Tornado Read More
- Tech Company Demonstrates Remote Disabling of a ‘Smart Gun’ 118 Comments
- Meet the Blind Man Nicknamed ‘Midnight Gunslinger’ Who Has 80% Shot Accuracy Read More
- How a $4.5 Million Network of 181 Sirens Helped Save Lives in Oklahoma Twister Read More
- See the Record-Setting Python a Man Caught With His Bare Hands (and Guess How Much It Weighed) Read More
- Krzyzewski returning to coach USA Basketball
- ECB official: New bank authority 'indispensable'
- Newly found Pearl S. Buck book is to be published
- AP Interview: Rogge praises wrestling's changes
- Writer Chinua Achebe honored in Nigeria funeral
- Singer Nick Carter to release memoir Sept. 24
- AP Interview: Syria conflict uproots Palestinians
- Birth control coverage up for federal appeal