Writing at Alternet, Robert Reich explains why CNN gave Trump an hour to peddle his vainglorious lies and narcissism. CNN has a new owner. He wants the network to be “centrist,” to bring on equal numbers of Democrats and MAGAnuts. And behind the new owner is an investor and board member who has given significant money to Trump.

Why did CNN give Trump this gift?

Reich writes:

The germ of an answer could be found last August, when Chris Licht, CNN’s new chairman and CEO, canceled Brian Stelter’s Sunday show, “Reliable Sources,” which had been a reliable source of intelligent criticism of Fox News, right-wing media in general, Trumpism, and the increasingly authoritarian lurch of the Republican party.

Licht also fired Stelter and his staff.

The show had been commercially successful. It was doing better than several of CNN’s prime-time shows.

Around the same time, Licht told CNN staff they should stop referring to Donald Trump’s “big lie” because the phrase sounded like a Democratic party talking point. Licht also told the staff he wanted more “straight news reporting,” along with more conservative guests.

This explains to me why CNN invited a female Trump lawyer on the air on the day that E. Jean Carroll won a civil judgment against Trump for $5 million for sexual abuse and defamation. I suppose I expected to hear from an impartial legal expert, but instead there was a beautiful angry Trump lawyer, speaking through clenched teeth. Her unconcealed rage undermined her credibility, but I was nonetheless surprised to see the network turn to someone so partisan.

Reich continues:

Follow the money. CNN’s new corporate overseer is Warner Bros. Discovery Inc, whose CEO is David Zaslav.

Zaslav has been pushing Licht to reposition CNN to be a network preferred by “everybody … Republicans, Democrats….”

How is it possible to report on Trump and not speak of the big lie, or say they’ve broken norms if not laws?

So, what’s motivating Zaslav? Keep following the money.

The leading shareholder in Warner Bros. Discovery is John Malone, a multibillionaire cable magnate. (Malone was a chief architect in the merger of Discovery and CNN.)

Malone describes himself as a “libertarian” although he travels in right-wing Republican circles. In 2005, he held 32% of the shares of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. He is on the board of directors of the Cato Institute. In 2017, he donated $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration.

Malone has said he wants CNN to be more like Fox News because, in his view, Fox News has “actual journalism.” Malone also wants the “news” portion of CNN to be “more centrist…”

When you follow the money behind deeply irresponsible decisions at the power centers of America today, the road often leads to right-wing billionaires.

We have known a long time. You never go wrong following the money.