Puck News takes brutal swipe at Jake Tapper's ego while addressing CNN+'s woes

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The digital outlet Puck News took a shot at CNN anchor Jake Tapper while reporting on the behind-the-scenes drama of the Warner Brothers/Discovery merger.

In the piece, declaring “The David Zaslav Honeymoon Is Already Over,” Puck News co-founder Matthew Belloni offered an analysis of the current landscape the new CEO is facing in the newly-formed company. 

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“I’m betting the inevitable mass layoffs are next. Keep in mind, Warner Bros. Discovery is launching with about $58 billion in debt. That’s huge,” Belloni wrote on Thursday. “Netflix, which some critics have dubbed Debtflix, carried a comparatively small $16 billion debt load in 2020. Netflix is a different business, but some analysts believe it will take Warner Bros. Discovery more than a decade to pay its debt off—and that’s if content costs don’t continue to rise, as expected. Zaslav has already promised more than $3 billion in immediate cost savings, though a lot of those cuts will come from overlapping units that have nothing to do with content.”

FILE - Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

FILE – Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
(AP Photo)

“That’s all separate from perhaps the biggest challenge here: Integrating two media behemoths—and only a couple years after AT&T downsized and integrated WarnerMedia, causing much anger and a talent exodus. Yes, the companies excel at different things—Discovery churns out cheap reality TV for a downmarket audience and maintains a huge international sports presence; Warner makes $200 million comic book movies and wins Emmys—which will render many aspects complementary. But it’s tough to smash together legacy companies with distinct cultures. Disney and Fox are still struggling with that integration, he told readers. 

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Belloni, who previously served as the editor of The Hollywood Reporter, laid out several “winners” and “losers” based on conversations he’s had. 

Among the winners were HBO Max for already being a strong competitor to Netflix, as well as top executives like Discovery brands officer Kathleen Finch, Warner Bros. film chief Toby Emmerich and Discovery Streaming CEO J.B. Perrette. 

However, among the losers was CNN+, the recently-launched streaming service from the liberal news network. 

CNN expanded Jake Tapper’s role as the network prepares for the Biden administration.) REUTERS/Mike Segar 

CNN expanded Jake Tapper’s role as the network prepares for the Biden administration.) REUTERS/Mike Segar 

“You can sense the Zaslav team already rolling their eyes at the reported $300 million per year budget for the new CNN-branded streamer, especially since downloads in its first few days have been poor, I’m told,” Belloni wrote. “Vulture’s Joe Adalian called it ‘the Quibi of streaming news,’ which must have caused CNN’s new leader Chris Licht and CNN+’s Andrew Morse to shudder.”

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“I’m not ready to tar it with the Scarlet Q quite yet, but CNN+ certainly hasn’t articulated why it exists or why I should pay $6 for it. No, a Jake Tapper book club isn’t quite as compelling as his news show (though I am curious to find out what Jake reads besides media coverage of himself),” Belloni added. 

Fox News reached out to CNN for comment. 

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