A conservative lawyer drew applause Friday when he questioned Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes about CNN’s liberal bias at the company’s annual shareholder meeting.
The questioner, Justin Danhof, is general counsel for the conservative National Center for Public Policy Research. He attended the Los Angeles meeting to represent David Ridenour, the center’s vice president and a Time Warner shareholder.
“If a terrorist attack that kills four Americans, followed by a coordinated cover-up by the White House, no longer constitute news, then CNN should remove the middle N' from its name,” Danhof said.
Danhof cited CNN's promotion of David Chalian to political director as a further example of bias. Chalian was caught on tape at the 2012 Republican National Convention saying the GOP is “happy to have a party with black people drowning” in Hurricane Isaac, a major storm which coincided with the convention. Yahoo News fired Chalian for the comment.
After airing CNN's dirty laundry (the full transcript is available here) Danhof asked Bewkes whether he would admit CNN's liberal bias. According to The Hollywood Reporter, "roughly half the audience burst into applause" after Danhof posed the question.
Bewkes demurred. "I hear your views, I understand them, I’m not admitting what you ask," he said, though he added that Danhof’s criticism was "a very constructive thing."
After the meeting, Danhof expressed disbelief at Bewkes' response. "Mr. Bewkes is either blindly unaware or callously indifferent to what is going on at CNN," Danhof said. "And the network’s poor ratings bear this out."
CNN's ratings are mired in third place behind Fox News and MSNBC, according to viewership data from the first quarter of 2014. The network's one bright spot was the three-week period coinciding with its wall-to-wall coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.