Chris Licht told Donald Trump to "have fun" before the network's controversial town hall for the republican presidential candidate in May.
In the recent profile of the CNN CEO, journalist Tim Alberta got to the bottom on the network's decision to give the polarizing politician a platform and how the crowd was filled with MAGA supporters.
According to Alberta, Licht knew the audience would have Trump's die-hard fans rather than the "GOP-leaning independents" CNN advertised to its watchers. The executive reportedly even commented on the crowd being "extra Trumpy" for the television event.
Alberta also uncovered that Licht told reporters working that night, "the way to deal with a bully like Trump … was to confront him with facts."
The overall strategy for the town hall was to regain moderate viewers Licht believes CNN lost due to their harsh coverage of Trump.
Licht allegedly told employees that the network had "lost its way under former president Jeff Zucker." He also claimed CNN’s reporting on the former commander-in-chief "alienated a broader viewership that craved sober, fact-driven coverage."
Although Licht's strategy clearly backfired, as the network faced tons of backlash regarding the town hall. The network infuriated democrats with their choice to give Trump a national platform.
Shortly after the intense criticism, Licht decided to share his vision for the network for the public to better understand his mission.
"Journalism. Being trusted. Everyone has an agenda, trying to shape events or shape thought. There has to be a source of absolute truth," the executive explained. "There's good actors, there's bad actors, there's a lot of sh** in the world. There has to be something that you're able to look at and go, 'They have no agenda other than the truth.'"
- 'That Wasn't Boring': Inside CNN CEO Chris Licht's Meltdown After Donald Trump's Disastrous Town Hall
- CNN's Kaitlan Collins Defends Hosting Town Hall With Donald Trump Amid Backlash: 'It's Important'
- Donald Trump Felt 'Pumped Up' During Town Hall After Seeing Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez's Tweets Slamming CNN: Source
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In the profile Alberta shared, "Republicans were angry at CNN. Democrats were angry at CNN. Journalists were angry at CNN. The only one who wasn't angry, it seemed, was Trump, most likely because he'd succeeded in disgracing the network on its own airwaves."
The Atlantic reported on Licht and the town hall.