Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes Questioned About CNN's Liberal Bias
"If a terrorist attack that kills four Americans, followed by a coordinated cover-up by the White House, does not constitute 'news,' then CNN should remove the middle N from its name," says shareholder critic to Bewkes
Shareholder Audience Applauds Critic
Los Angeles, CA / Washington, D.C. - Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes was thoroughly questioned by the National Center's Justin Danhof on CNN's left-wing bias at the company's annual shareholder meeting Friday in Los Angeles.
Danhof asked Mr. Bewkes about CNN's coverage of Benghazi, Candy Crowley's pretentious and erroneous judging within the 2012 presidential debates, climate change, a miniseries promoting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the appointment of David Chalian to political director - a man who has claimed the GOP is "happy to have a party with black people drowning."
"Mr. Bewkes is either blindly unaware or callously indifferent to what is going on at CNN - specifically the network's pervasive liberal bias," said Danhof. "And the network's poor ratings bear this out. When I asked Mr. Bewkes if he would first admit that CNN has a pro-liberal bias, so he could start working towards a solution, he flatly refused. But at the same time, he said my criticism was sincere and important, and that's what the network needs to hear as it works to get better. This is the definition of talking out of both sides of your mouth. Of course our criticism of the network is valid. And of course CNN suffers from having left-leaning hosts and producers. Mr. Bewkes just chooses not to recognize the latter and its correlation with CNN's woeful ratings."
An audio recording of the exchange is on YouTube here; a transcript of the exchange is here. Stories in the Hollywood Reporter by Paul Bond and Breitbart.com by John Nolte about Danhof's exchange with Mr. Bewkes are here and here.
"Mr. Bewkes claimed that the company tries to be objective and not present news stories from one side or the other, but CNN's own president Jeff Zucker has belied this ideal with his recent comments that I discussed with Mr. Bewkes," said Danhof. "Mr. Bewkes recognized that I am judging CNN a failure at reaching this ideal of objectivity. But it isn't just me; it's the millions of Americans who look elsewhere for their news. That's who Mr. Bewkes should be concerned with."
"While Mr. Bewkes may have his head in the sand, the company shareholders in attendance at today's meeting heard me loud and clear and vociferously applauded my question," noted Danhof. "Despite being in the heart of liberal elite Hollywood - on the Warner Brothers lot - the audience loudly applauded my calls for CNN to take steps to curb its liberal bias and produce news stories devoid of only liberal narratives. And after the meeting, I was further encouraged as many shareholders came up to thank me personally for my comments and express disgust with CNN's current content. In fact, at one point a line formed as shareholders wanted to express their thanks for the courage we showed in speaking out on this very important issue."
"Even before the question and answer session, it was clear that Mr. Bewkes was already on the defensive about CNN. After talking about the great successes of the company movies, and specifically noting the cable successes of TBS and TNT, he explained that CNN was working to attract more viewers during times of non-breaking news and had recently unveiled a new slogan," said Danhof. "This is far from the ringing endorsements that Mr. Bewkes adorned on the company's other cable platforms."
In 2013, Danhof asked Mr. Bewkes about CNN's bias against gun ownership and the Second Amendment. At the time, Mr. Bewkes said CNN would strive to do better.
In 2012, a representative of the National Center, Project 21's Oscar Murdock, asked Mr. Bewkes what the company can do about the celebrities it employs making radical political statements that might hurt the company's profits, and Bewkes replied flatly: "Not much." The question came in response to actor Morgan Freeman calling Tea Partiers "racist" while publicizing a movie, harming that movie's box office receipts.
The National Center for Public Policy Research participated in the shareholder meetings of six other media companies so far this year, including CBS, Disney (ABC News), the New York Times, Gannett, Graham Holdings (Post-Newsweek Stations/Slate) and Comcast (NBC/MSNBC).
The National Center's Free Enterprise Project is a leading free-market corporate activist group. Friday's Time Warner meeting was the 45th shareholder meeting in which the National Center has participated in 2014.
The National Center for Public Policy Research, founded in 1982, is a non-partisan, free-market, independent conservative think-tank. Ninety-four percent of its support comes from individuals, three percent from foundations, and three percent from corporations. It receives over 350,000 individual contributions a year from over 96,000 active recent contributors.
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