Chris Licht Calls Criticism Over CNN’s Repositioning of “Vitriol Uniforms” – The Hollywood Reporter
Chris Licht has responded to criticism of CNN’s changes to coverage, calling some of them “uniform vitriol” and claiming that much of what “consides as news is name-calling” , half truth and despair.”
In a new interview with New York Times published Sunday, the network’s CEO opened up about his late-night departure, his relationship with the Warner Bros. CEO. Discovery, David Zaslav and his (publicly criticized) moves in the first eight months of running the media company. That includes lost revenue, a complete drop in HLN, shutting down CNN+ in less than a month, and other, more recent layoffs, which at one point he told employees would not happen. as a result of the Warner-Discovery merger — and now he feels like “I have to get that credit back” with employees.
While talking to time, the CNN executive expressed that criticism has come from outside of many of the company’s moves over the past eight months — especially from media professionals like former colleagues and former MSNBC hosts. Keith Olbermann — missing information. He said: “The spirit of being underinformed, especially from the left, has made a strong impression, which proves my point: a lot of what is considered news is called a name, a fact. half-heartedness and despair.”
Licht is addressing responses to, among other things, his approach to prominent voices online, which he says is aimed at providing “a sensible conversation about polarizing issues” and a “24/7” non-Trump-ordered version of the news. It’s an approach that has been criticized after hiring the likes of Stephen Gutowski, founder and editor of gun website The Reload, by the likes of Shannon Watts, Founder of Action on Demand of MothersA grassroots organization affiliated with Everytown that supports public safety measures around gun violence.
“Nobody wants a school shooting,” time Licht expressed. “But we have to understand the culture of gun people,” he said before adding, “this is not vanilla, neutral or boring.”
The comments are similar to what he gave Financial Times in late November, told the publication that “one of the biggest misconceptions about my vision is that I want to be vanilla, that I want to be central. That’s bullshit.”
“You have to convince. You must have an advantage. In many cases, you choose a side. Sometimes you just ask nasty questions,” he added. “But you don’t see it through the left or right lens either way.”
Licht has also been criticized or at least seen by some questioning his approach to CNN’s prime time slot, which led him to move Don Lemon out of prime time and into a morning show with CNN BILLIONhis morning and Jake Tapper temporarily into prime time to fill Chris Cuomo’s old time — an experiment that lasted only a month.
But Licht said despite his flaws and criticism, he views primetime as an “open canvas” and a space where there’s “a little bit of time to be a little bit different”. That approach has led him and his team to “throw everything against the wall, looking for unsuccessful opportunities” with figures in entertainment, comedy and sports. “It has to be engaging and entertaining without compromising the news brand.”
According to Licht, examples of “the type of person who will work” are Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart. “I want CNN to be essential to society,” he told time. “If you need it, the revenue will follow.”