Big Twist Leaves MAGA-Hating CNN Employees Answering to the 'Cable Cowboy'


With a moniker like the “Cable Cowboy,” you’d probably guess John C. Malone isn’t quite the woke type. That only begins to tell the story, however — and now, CNN’s MAGA-hating employees could be answering to a conservative whose company donated to Donald Trump’s inaugural festivities.

As leftist media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting noted in a February article, Malone was the chairman of the board of directors at Discovery, Inc. — the company that merged with CNN’s parent corporation to form Warner Brothers Discovery.

He still sits on the board, according to Hollywood industry publication Deadline, and he was the largest shareholder of Discovery going into the merger.

Now, we’re beginning to see the first fruits of Malone’s leadership ripening — and it could end with one of CNN’s biggest stars being fired.

(At The Western Journal, we’ve been covering the Warner Brothers-Discovery merger and what it means for CNN — and for the liberal cable news landscape in general. It’s the kind of coverage you won’t get from the establishment media, which likes to pretend CNN is a source of unbiased journalism as opposed to a partisan outlet. If you support independent news and analysis like this, which doesn’t just parrot the status quo, please consider subscribing.)

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A quote from an interview Malone gave to CNBC in November about how he would change CNN — “I would like to see CNN evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing” — got passed around social media a bit last November, both because it acknowledged how CNN had become a punditry outfit and because it showed there was a new sheriff in town.

Not only that, but in the same interview, according to Fox News,  Malone praised The Network That Shall Not Be Named™: “Fox News, in my opinion, has followed an interesting trajectory of trying to have news news, I mean some actual journalism, embedded in a program schedule of all opinions.”

However, as FAIR noted, Malone’s conservatism goes deeper than that.

“Malone’s links to politics include being an active supporter — he’s currently a board member — of the Cato Institute, the Washington-based libertarian think tank that espouses the privatization of numerous US government agencies and programs, including Social Security and the Postal Service,” FAIR noted.

Do you think CNN will clean up its act under its new ownership?

“His Liberty Media empire was among the big contributors to Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration festivities in Washington, DC, with personal and corporate contributions adding up to $1 million.”

In 2019, Malone criticized the then-president, although not due to his policies.

“Look, I think a lot of things Trump has tried to do — identifying problems and trying to solve them — has been great,” he said in a CNBC interview.

“I just don’t think he’s the right guy to do it. Half the people that he’s hired and thrown under the bus are now trying to kill him. I mean, what kind of thing is that?”

Malone’s Liberty Media empire also includes principal ownership stakes in SiriusXM satellite radio, the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Formula One international auto racing series.

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A 2018 article in the U.K. Gentleman’s Journal called him “[o]ne of the most powerful, yet unknown, individuals in America” and noted he owns more land in the United States than anyone else does.

“As a result, Malone has a net worth of around $9.22bn, and thanks to his buccaneering role in media deals and land ownership, he’s been nicknamed the ‘Cable Cowboy,’” Gentleman’s Journal reported.

At least at CNN, the difference under new ownership is being felt — and while one doth not know how much influence “The Cable Cowboy” has at the cable network, it certainly has his stamp of approval upon it.

According to a tweet by Jon Nicosia of News Cycle Media, a CNN insider reports that “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter — one of the most transparently biased anchors on the network, despite the fact he’s hosting a show that purports to be straight news — is “down to weeks if not days” at the network.

“He is everything that reminds the new owners of the [Jeff] Zucker era they desperately want to get past,” the source said, referring to the former CNN president who got the ax earlier in the year.

“Management is confident Stelter is the one sharing the internal pushback to fellow media reporters while simultaneously stirring discontent within the ranks,” the source added.

This doesn’t sound out-of-character for Stelter, who reportedly pushed back on WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar at a February staff meeting after Zucker was forced to resign due to an undisclosed romantic relationship with an employee linked to former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

According to The Wrap, Stelter asked Kilar what he was doing to help “4,000 employees move on,” telling Kilar, “I kind of think, Jason, you need to pick us off the mat and shake us off and get us back to work.”

Stelter also generated negative headlines back in April after a contentious exchange with a Yale University professor who found that Fox News was partisan — and then accused CNN and Stelter of the same kind of partisanship:

Malone’s power and voting interest at Warner Brothers Discovery is a big twist for the partisans over at CNN — who now find themselves in the unenviable position of having one of the most powerful members of the merged company’s board noting the network should “actually have journalists” and not just engage in punditry.

Of course, it could be worse. They could all be versions of Brian Stelter, who — from the sound of things — won’t even have a choice regarding whether he finds a job elsewhere or submits to the new order at a network where Malone has significant sway.

Whatever the case, just a few months ago, CNN employees might not have even known Malone existed. Now, you can bet your bippy they know who the “Cable Cowboy” is.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture