Chris Licht goes to 1600 Penn – POLITICO
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CNN’s new CEO, CHRIS LIGHT, was at the station’s Washington office this week to meet with staff and oversee coverage of Election Night.
But the new boss also had another important trip to make while he was in town.
Several people with knowledge told West Wing Playbook that Licht visited the White House to meet with CNN’s White House reporting team and attend a private meeting with the President JOE BIDENthe chief of staff RON KLAIN.
While only recently beginning his tenure at the helm of the cable news organization, Licht has made getting to know the leaders of both parties his top priority. A source said Licht had been meeting with senior Republicans in Congress and other Democrats in recent days.
Licht’s trip to the White House comes amid a careful internal balancing act at CNN. He has sought to endear himself to network staff, who are still shocked by the former boss’s abrupt and acrimonious departure jeff sugar Licht has visited the DC office several times since taking the top job and met one-on-one with top talent (he was one of the anchors JAKE TAPPERS‘s guests at last month’s dinner hosted by the prestigious Gridiron Club). He also had to reassure employees who, just weeks after the streaming service launched, were still frustrated by CNN+’s disastrous launch and demise (although Licht wasn’t even technically on the job yet).
But like pucks DYLAN BYERS Remarks, he is still learning the internal rhythms of the network. He has attempted to distance himself from humble employees, a deliberate departure from Zucker’s hands-on programming approach intended to empower producers and journalists.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment on Klain’s meeting with Light. But the discussion comes as top Biden advisers ramp up press work to improve the president’s poor approval ratings, which have plummeted amid rising inflation and gas prices.
In recent months, senior administration officials seemed more open to engaging with journalists behind the scenes. Klain, in particular, has been giving more on-the-record interviews and meeting with other key political media figures such as the MSNBC host JOE SCARBOROUGH.
During his first 16 months in office, Biden did not do much behind-the-scenes messaging and correspondence with media personalities. When West Wing Playbook called DAVID BROOKS Earlier this year, the New York Times columnist and longtime Biden favorite said he hadn’t heard from the president since they spoke about an article last year.
But Biden’s personal frustration with coverage of his administration may force him to change his approach.
Last week, he took time out for a confidential chat with the New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, which the President has long read and respected. The move produced positive results for the president: Friedman released a column in which he did not share details of the meeting but defended Biden’s intellectual acuity and praised his handling of the response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He also revealed that he ate a tuna sandwich.
WRITE TO US – Are you the new CNN boss CHRIS LICHT? We want to hear from you. And we will keep you anonymous. Or if you think we’ve missed something in today’s edition, let us know and we can add it tomorrow. Email us at [email protected].
WHAT YOU WRITE: FRED DUVAL, deputy chief of protocol during BILL CLINTON‘s first term, wrote some of his own stories about giving foreign gifts:
In the “great” gifts category, this one: When President Nelson Mandela (who boxed to keep in shape while imprisoned on Robbin Island) came to Washington after the fall of apartheid and his rise to the presidency, President Clinton presented him with a collection of letters signed by all living heavyweight champions and expressed their admiration. He was so touched that he cried.
Wrong in the gifts category: On a trip to Saudi Arabia, President Clinton was given Arabian horses that could not be flown home with AF1. You must then ask the US Ambassador RAY MABUS what has become of them.*
*We reached out to Mabus, but he didn’t respond in time for publication.
With the White House Historical Association
Which President built a heated swimming pool at Camp David?
It’s Friday and you know what that means. cartoon time! This is courtesy of KEVIN KAL KALLAUHER. Our own MATT WÜRKER also publishes a selection of cartoons from around the country. Check out the cartoon carousel here.
WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE WANTS YOU TO READ: Some reasonably good news on inflation rates. This MarketWatch story by JEFFRY BARTASH notes that “a key measure of US inflation rose just 0.2 percent in April, marking the smallest increase in a year and a half, helped by lower gasoline prices. There were further indications that a rise in US inflation could be abating.”
WHAT THE WHITE HOUSE NOT WANT TO READ: While that number may be reassuring, Americans still don’t see relief at the pump. This NYT story from CLIFFORD KRAUS states that gasoline prices are indeed reaching new highs ahead of the holiday weekend: “The price of regular gasoline in California is already over $6 a gallon and it is virtually impossible to find gasoline for under $4 anywhere else . Across the country, prices have increased nearly 50 cents a gallon in the last month.”
BONUS CONTENT: Our BEN WHITE also has a description that breaks down who or what is actually at fault for inflation.
STUDENT DEBT REDUCTION BUZZ: Biden’s team has a plan to cancel some student loan debtbut White House staffers are waiting for the president to decide whether or not to proceed, CNN EDWARD ISAAC DOVERE reports.
While there has been some speculation that the president will make an announcement about debt relief this weekend during the University of Delaware inauguration ceremony, the Dovere people are telling that a final decision will likely “take more time.”
Dovere writes that almost every internal conversation over the past few weeks about what to do has eventually boiled down to whether debt relief will stoke inflation, just as Democrats are hoping interest rates will rise before the Midterms begin to decline.
@NEERA’S INCOME: NEERA TANDENsenior advisor and staff secretary to Biden, took to Twitter on Friday morning to let GOP lawmakers know Promote gun reform after the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas. “Saying nothing will change helps ensure nothing changes. Never take pressure off the GOP to pass gun safety legislation,” she wrote.
“The difference between living with this madness or not is just a matter of whether they will act. Or enough of that.” Especially the President has yet to directly call out the Republican legislature for blocking new gun laws.
ADDITIONAL UKRAINE HELP: The Biden administration is considering sending advanced long-range missile systems to Ukrainebut a final decision has not yet been made, as neither the President nor the Secretary of Defense LLOYD AUSTIN have approved the last batch of aid.
But people tell ours Paul McLeary and Lara Seligmann that the US-made Multiple Launch Rocket System and the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System will be considered as part of the package that will be sent to Ukraine.
The supply of baby food ingredients is limited by the war in Ukraine (Liz Essley Whyte of the WSJ)
Biden Tells Naval Academy Putin ‘NATO-ized Europe’ Graduates (AP’s Zeke Miller)
Blinken stresses the importance of completing the Israeli investigation into the reporter’s assassination (Kanishka Singh from Reuters)
Vice President KAMALA HARRIS and Second Lord DOUG EMHOFF‘s visit to Buffalo, NY this weekend to attend the memorial service RUTH WHITFIELDa victim of the Buffalo mass shooting.
He traveled to Annapolis, Maryland, where he addressed the US Naval Academy’s 2022 senior class at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium.
In the afternoon he drove to Wilmington, Delaware.
She has no public events planned.
GINA McCARTHYBiden’s climate adviser is a big fan of not taking his work home.
“For eight years [as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency] in the Obama administration, I just didn’t do it,” talking about working at home, she told FastCompany in December 2020.
“I think my husband didn’t know what I did for a living until I was in the Obama administration, because then he could read some things on the news and it was like, ‘Oh, you do this?'” she added .
Was…was Gina McCarthy the inspiration for Severance?
president RICHARD NIXON built a heated swimming pool next to the President’s stateroom on the property.
A CALL — Think you have a harder trivia question? Send us your best question about Presidents with a quote and we can publish it.
Edited by Eun Kyung Kim and Sam Stein