When Chris Licht took over as CEO of CNN last year, reports abounded that he was prepared to institute sweeping changes in the ideological slant and journalistic standards of the struggling cable news network.
Although there have been some incremental adjustments, such as severing ties with a handful of on-air personalities and moving former primetime anchor Don Lemon to the morning shift, many critics say it remains largely the same left-leaning outlet it always was.
As it turns out, Licht has not been as open to change as initial reports suggested — and he explained why in a recent interview.
“I’m casting a wide net to help broaden the appeal of our prime time,” he said. “But at the same time, I can’t offend our core audience of news junkies. I would never do anything that would hurt the brand and reputation that we’re working so hard to restore.”
Nevertheless, he seemed to concede that CNN’s ratings have continued to crater during his tenure at the helm. The network recently recorded its worst numbers in nine years, falling far behind leftist rival MSNBC and longtime cable news leader Fox News.
“What we are doing is fundamentally reformatting the network,” Licht said. “And it’ll take some time for that to get into a rhythm, and then it’ll take time to market it. And so it will take some time to grow again.”
The news that CNN will now air Bill Maher's 'Overtime' segments on Friday nights comes on the heels of reports that the network's chief is kicking around the idea of hiring a late-night comedian for a primetime slot.https://t.co/qPfYXg4AR5
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) January 30, 2023
He claimed that CNN employees “understand that we didn’t get here overnight and we’re not going to get out of it overnight.”
There is apparently a significant amount of frustration brewing behind the scenes, however, as Licht attempts to reverse the current trends. He reportedly fired a top producer of “CNN This Morning” in light of its dismal ratings.
The show, which features Lemon and co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, was created to replace “New Day,” the network’s prior weekday morning show. In September, Licht seemed optimistic about its potential.
“There is no stronger combination of talent than Don, Poppy, and Kaitlan to deliver on our promise of a game-changing morning news program,” he said. “They are each uniquely intelligent, reliable, and compelling; together they have a rare and palpable chemistry.”