CNN CEO Chris Licht told former President Donald Trump to “have fun” before last month’s failed ambush of him during a town hall event on the network, according to a report.
Trump appeared to enjoy himself while the network has yet to recover from the bruising it took.
Licht has spent the last year-plus attempting to revive CNN into a serious news network.
Nothing has worked, and viewership continues to decline.
After years of posturing against Trump at the expense of the truth, CNN was left with only a core of left-wing viewers and people who are waiting for flights in airports.
It angered much of the former group when it agreed to host Trump in New Hampshire last month.
Throughout 70 minutes, the former president turned the tables on town hall moderator Kaitlan Collins en route to embarrassing both her and Licht.
More than three million people tuned in, giving CNN a brief boost.
But CNN took a black eye so severe that night that the network averaged fewer than 500,000 viewers in prime time to end the month of May after ratings plunged by 16 percent compared to the month prior.
None of that likely would have happened if Licht, Collins, and everyone else behind the debacle had simply treated Trump and conservatives with respect.
Instead, Collins and CNN tried to settle a score and make the event about narratives its hosts and guests have pushed for years — narratives voters aren’t concerned with.
Licht ended up cementing CNN as the irredeemable left-wing enterprise it has become in the eyes of people who were hopeful it had turned a new leaf.
Collins worked to repel potential viewers while many of the few loyal people that were left are probably spending their evenings now watching MSNBC.
CNN employees were also reportedly livid.
According to a reporter who spoke with Licht just before the Trump town hall kicked off, the embattled CEO and the former president spoke to one another before the spectacle.
Reporting for The Atlantic, Tim Alberta wrote: “… [W]hen CNN made the decision to stock the auditorium with Republicans, the only thing Trump could figure was that Licht wanted a prime-time spectacle to resuscitate the network’s moribund ratings. The two men spoke only briefly backstage. ‘Have fun,’ Licht told him. Trump obliged.”
Alberta said after the town hall wrapped, Licht was “wearing the expression of a man who had just survived a car wreck.”
The CNN CEO told the reporter, “Well, that wasn’t boring.”
By that time, people on every side of the political spectrum were weighing in online about the network’s mishandling of the event.
Many conservatives were rightly annoyed, but not surprised, that CNN had again tried and failed to hurt Trump.
Meanwhile, the anti-free speech left, which was already peeved he was being platformed, was furious he had run circles around Collins’ and the media’s broader narratives.
TV news is already on the decline, which made Licht’s decision to set a trap for Trump all the more peculiar. The man had to have been aware of the dynamics surrounding the event.
Instead of giving his network the best chance to attract viewers and ad revenue, Licht went with a bizarre strategy: to alienate more people than ever by tapping an inept partisan activist in Collins to go after Trump.
Trump, for his part, did appear to relish every moment of whipping CNN like a government mule — although he probably didn’t need any advice from Licht.
The country’s 45th commander-in-chief has been having fun at the expense of CNN for years.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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