Just when you thought that the CNN+ fiasco was dead and not possible of becoming any more embarrassing – it somehow gets even more embarrassing.
CNN+ – the cable news network’s streaming service that charged viewers $6 per month – launched on March 29 and was shuttered on April 28. Despite CNN spending an estimated $300 million to launch the trainwreck of a product, plus another $100 to $200 million to promote the doomed venture, CNN+ reportedly only garnered a pathetic 5,000 to 10,000 viewers a day.
“CNN Plus hired about 700 people for its launch,” the Washington Post reported last month. “A person at the network said that 350 people will be affected by layoffs, though the company expects many of those employees to find new roles at the company, absorbed back into CNN or into open jobs at Discovery-owned networks such as the HBO Max streaming service.”
A former designer for CNN+ – who only worked for the streaming service for a few months – told Insider the experience of being canned by the company, “I remember texting my roommates and telling them I was getting fired. Everyone was utterly shocked.”
A week after the workers were fired by the streaming service’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, the laid-off employees were sent welcome baskets from CNN+, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Inside the welcome baskets were items such as CNN-branded pens, food containers, popcorn machines, and headphones.
Adding insult to injury for the laid-off workers of the service that couldn’t survive a full month, there was a welcome note that read: “This is an incredible time to be part of CNN. Build relationships and take time to connect with colleagues and learn so that you make the most of your time here.”
CNN told the WSJ that the ill-timed welcome baskets were sent by “mistake.”
While the network may not have had enough money to keep employees, CNN did have enough money to throw a “Political Hangover” brunch to end White House correspondents’ weekend – which irked an ex-employee.
“The hangover brunch lived up to its name with a bloody Mary station, as well as an Aperol Spritz bar and a coffee bar that served lattes decked out with the CNN logo,” The Hill reported.
The event was attended by CNN personalities, including Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, Jim Acosta, Brian Stelter, Don Lemon, Melanie Zanona, Priscilla Álvarez, Daniella Díaz, Melissa Macaya, and Maegan Vázquez.
The event infuriated at least one former CNN employee who told Radar Online, “Here they are spending gobs of money on a ‘hangover’ brunch to close out WHCD weekend. Management is tone-deaf. Then again, frugal spending isn’t really their forte.”
The ex-employee added, “It’s nuts. The network never ceases to amaze, doesn’t it?”
— Brian Stelter (@Brian Stelter)