The CEO of CNN, Chris Licht, revealed he has been the target of “uninformed vitriol” from the political left over his efforts to change the network’s editorial direction back to the political center.

Licht, who took over from Jeff Zucker earlier this year, said in an interview with The New York Times that he was surprised by the strength of the backlash to his reforms.

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

Since taking over in February this year, Licht has gone about enforcing a wide range of staffing and programmatic changes including shaking up the network’s morning lineup by removing the openly left-wing host Don Lemon out of his prime-time slot and into CNN This Morning with Kaitlyn Collins and Poppy Harlow.

“They obviously like each other,” Licht said of the new show. “The chemistry is great. I love the collaboration. Every day, it evolves. It’s not like me giving orders. It’s so much fun.”

Other CNN anchors, including Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter, have been pushed out of the network entirely as part of Licht’s restructuring efforts.

Licht explained that he wanted CNN to offer “rational conversation about polarizing issues” and for viewers to “take what they’ve heard to the dinner table and have a discussion.”

“That’s a dream of mine,” he added.

The network is said to be struggling under the pressure of a flatlining economy and a fall in digital advertising, forcing him to lay off employees and find other ways of cutting costs. This included closing the company’s paid-for streaming service CNN+ just weeks after its ambitious launch.

“I want CNN to be essential to society. If you’re essential then the revenue will follow,” he explained. “Maybe it won’t work. But I’d rather try to win this way.”

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