Economics/Class Relations

Inside CNN’s epic fail

June 5, 2023
Hello, Insiders! Nicholas Carlson, global editor in chief, here. The Atlantic published a devastating profile of CNN CEO Chris Licht on Friday. He comes across as someone with no vision — and no backbone.


Several of Licht’s peers have shared their horror with me over the story since it came out: “It’s like watching a snuff film,” one told me. So, how did CNN screw the pooch? I’ve been able to piece together a timeline. That’s today’s Big Story.


In today’s edition:

— Nicholas Carlson

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Apple, student loans, & Russia

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook is expected to unveil a new mixed-reality headset today — marking the company’s riskiest move yet.
  • Student-loan borrowers are about to be thrown back into repayment — and some analysts say the economy will suffer because of it. More here.
  • Russia destroyed Ukraine’s “last warship” in Black Sea missile attack, Russia’s defense ministry said. Read more.

CNN disaster

Matt Winkelmeyer/GA/The Hollywood Reporter via Getty Images
CNN is in the midst of a massive PR fail. The disaster I’m referring to is reporter Tim Alberta’s tough profile of CNN chair and CEO Chris Licht, published last week in The Atlantic.

What went wrong at CNN to allow such a story to come to light? I have a basic timeline of how this thing went down — here’s some of it:

  • Licht got the job in May 2022, with a plan to make CNN less partisan.
  • In late May or June 2022, Alberta pitched a story to CNN comms “about whether trust in the media could be restored.”
  • Multiple CNN insiders told me their understanding was that the story was originally supposed to be about the launch of Licht’s brainchild, “CNN This Morning.”
  • But then things got backed up, they said. Alberta went on book leave. By the time he came back, the morning show was a disaster. CNN was forced to give him more access.

Passwords, debt ceiling, & more

Tyler Le/Insider
  • “I peeked into a future without passwords — and it’s closer than you think.” Companies like Google and Mastercard are trying to kill off passwords forever. Shubham Agarwal writes that a new system of passkeys may soon replace the technological headache. More here.
  • A mystery trader made a suspiciously-timed investment ahead of a surprise debt-ceiling-deal concession. There was no public reason to believe that the approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline — a pet project of Sen. Joe Manchin — would be included. But a trader bought 100,000 call options on the pipeline’s owner days before it was announced.
  • The former FBI director explains the rule-bending feds in his new and “real” mystery novel. Speaking about his debut novel, “Central Park West,” James Comey was open about which parts of the book were based on certain people and real experiences from his life. Read the full interview.
  • Want to know why younger generations seem so pissed? Younger Americans have serious economic anxiety, Insider’s business editor in chief, Matt Turner, writes. And while there’s lots of causes to point to, including student debt, there’s no bigger factor than the housing market. Here’s why.
  • Vladimir Putin was just a KGB “errand boy,” per a new report. For his work as an intelligence officer during the 1980s, Putin is often portrayed as a Soviet super spy. But an investigation by Der Spiegel said that his time at the KGB was limited to “banal” administrative tasks. Read more.
  • Elizabeth Holmes owes $452 million along with her former Theranos partner Sunny Balwani. But they might never have to fully pay up. Here’s how it works.
  • Managers of the ultra-rich’s fortunes are too afraid to ask them about succession plans. Logan Roy from “Succession” wasn’t the only one struggling to divide up his empire. A survey by UBS found that the majority of family offices didn’t have succession plans in place.

‘Pole-to-pole’ cruise

Holland America Line


Holland America’s longest upcoming itinerary is a 133-day “pole-to-pole” cruise starting at $26,400. The cruise line’s Volendam vessel is set to sail to both Antarctica and the Arctic Circle in 2025. See the full itinerary.

World Wide Waste

Cleaning sewers by hand is one of the world’s most dangerous jobs. India outlawed the practice 10 years ago, and today, one company hires former sewer divers to do it using robots. Watch them work.

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This edition was curated by Nicholas Carlson, and edited by Hallam Bullock, Lisa Ryan, and J.R. Stacey. Get in touch:

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