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CNN Chief Reveals What He's Found 'Stunning' Since Taking Over Network

AP Photo/Ron Harris

New CNN chief Chris Licht has been making waves at the network ever since he was named chief executive earlier this year. He started by taking an axe to streaming service CNN+ and has fired some of the most partisan voices at the network, including Brian Stelter and Chris Cillizza. Additionally, he announced even more job cuts in November, letting about 10 percent of the network's 4,000-strong workforce go. 

Needless to say, those changes have not gone over well at the network or beyond, and while that's not unexpected, Licht has been surprised by how intense the backlash has been. 

"The uninformed vitriol, especially from the left, has been stunning," Licht told The New York Times. "Which proves my point: so much of what passes for news is name-calling, half-truths and desperation. 

With MSNBC dominating the Left, and Fox News the Right, Licht is desperately trying to attract the middle. But it's proving to be a challenge, though one he's continuing to fight for. 

On Oct. 13, Mr. Licht made his debut in front of Warner Brothers Discovery’s board at a hotel in Los Angeles, where he outlined both his growth and content strategy. Asked about his efforts to make CNN less partisan, Mr. Licht gave this analogy: Suppose it’s raining outside. CNN plans to have people on who love the rain, and it will have people on who say they don’t like the rain. But it won’t have anyone on who says it’s sunny out.

Mr. Licht said he used the analogy to make clear that a less-partisan CNN did not mean it was any less committed to truth. “This wasn’t to plot a new course but to assure people we would not let up one inch in being truth tellers,” he said. “The change is we will not do Trump 24/7 or let him dictate our agenda.” (NYT)

Licht said he envisions CNN becoming "essential to society" and hopes the "revenue will follow."

"Maybe it won't work," Licht acknowledged. "But I'd rather try to win this way."



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