CNN CEO Chris Licht claims in a new interview this week that one of the reasons that change has been slow to come to the left-wing network is because he can’t upset the company’s “core audience.”
Licht told The Los Angeles Times that he deleted his Twitter account because he is “very focused” on trying to restore the company and trust in the brand.
“What we are doing is fundamentally reformatting the network. 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,” he said. “The people I work for understand that we didn’t get here overnight and we’re not going to get out of it overnight.”
Licht said that he is meeting with “culturally relevant individuals from the worlds of entertainment, sports and comedy who can bring fresh and unique perspectives to the news” as the network looks to revamp its prime time lineup after it fired Chris Cuomo and moved Don Lemon to its morning lineup.
“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.”
Licht said that the company has official market research that shows that its brand has been damaged because people do not trust it anymore.
The 51-year-old claimed that he has tried to extend an olive branch to Republicans to come on to the network after years of Republicans believing that they would “not get a fair shake” if they came on.
“We won’t invite you on to score points on you,” he claimed. “Come on and have an honest and open discussion about what your vision is for the future of this country, and be prepared to answer respectful, tough questions about that.”
“I spoke to the same number of Democrats and Republicans when I went up there at every level of leadership and basically said that same message. Because it was also: ‘Democrats, don’t come on and expect that you’re just going to get a rubber stamp,'” he added. “We’re going to ask questions that help illuminate whatever we’re talking about for the audience. And it all feeds into the broader strategy of trying not to be cable news. We’re trying to be news on cable. And the difference is cable news is, you would invite people on to have a food fight and that was entertaining. But I think that doesn’t serve society as a whole.”