The fallout from CNNs controversial – yet highly successful – town hall event with former President Donald Trump continues apace, with network correspondent Oliver Darcy reportedly now fearing for his job due to his criticism of the outlet's decision to provide a platform to the current Republican primary frontrunner, as the Daily Mail reports.
Darcy's concerns are said to stem from a meeting with CNN boss Chris Licht to which he was “summoned” after having publicly expressed his outrage over last week's event.
The commentary that appears to have put Darcy at odds with Licht came in the immediate wake of the New Hampshire town hall, of which CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins moderated to highly mixed reviews.
Darcy let loose in his Reliable Sources newsletter in the hours following the event, blasting his own network for providing Trump with a platform from which to speak to the American people.
“It's hard to see how America was served by the spectacle of lies that aired on CNN Wednesday evening,” Darcy said. “A professional lie machine, Trump fired off falsehoods at a rapid clip while using his bluster to overwhelm Collins, stealing command of the stage at some points of the town hall.”
Listing the issues about which he believed Trump told outright falsehoods, Darcy lamented, “And CNN aired it all. On and on it went. It felt like 2016 all over again. It was Trump's unhinged social media feed brought to life on stage,” a scenario he contended had unleashed “a fury of criticism – both internally and externally” against CNN and Licht.
Licht was reportedly none too pleased with Darcy's remarks, reportedly convening a meeting with the journalist and other members of the network's leadership the next morning, as Fox News noted.
During the discussion, Licht was said to have reprimanded Darcy for his late-night take on the town hall, further asking him to be less emotional and more objective, according to a source close to the situation, who was cited by the New York Post.
Though Dylan Byers of Puck News suggested that Darcy “stood by his work,” he also quoted two sources who claimed that the CNN correspondent appeared “visibly shaken” following the conversation with Licht.
According to the Mail, a report in Semafor suggested that after the meeting, “Darcy has wondered to colleagues whether he should resign or if he will be fired.”
Considering how strongly Licht appears to disagree with Darcy's position on the town hall, the liberal correspondent may well be justified in his concerns.
Licht has remained steadfast in his defense not just of Collins' handling of the televised event, but also the network's broader decision to host Trump in the first place.
Speaking to Collins' navigation of the evening's proceedings, Licht said, “You do not have to like the former president's answers, but you can't say that we didn't get them.”
Making no apologies for the programming decision itself, Licht added after the event, “I absolutely unequivocally believe America was served very well by what we did last night. Covering Trump is tricky and messy, and it will continue to be messy and tricky, but it's our job.”
Despite the turmoil that ensued in the hours and days after the Trump town hall and rumors that Darcy could be on his way out at CNN, Fox News reported Monday that the outspoken commentator has no plans to leave his position.
Specifically, a CNN spokesperson confirmed to Fox News Digital that “Oliver does not intend to resign, and his newsletter will be out per usual this evening.”
Notably, the town hall event of which Darcy was so critical turned out to be a massive ratings boon for a network that has famously struggled for viewership in recent years, bringing in 3.3 million pairs of eyes for the night in what was a doubling of the numbers pulled by Fox News and MSNBC for the same time slot, as the Mail noted separately.
Whether Licht's apparent willingness to cover both sides of the 2024 presidential campaign proves to be a fleeting phenomenon or is part of a broader commitment to even-handed journalism is something that remains to be seen, as is Darcy's ability to take the CEO's cautionary words to heart.