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CNN Chief Chafes Over Gutfeld, Balks When Journalist Points Out: ‘He Beat Colbert’

CNN President Chris Licht dismissed the news that Fox News host Greg Gutfeld was winning the ratings war against traditional late-night comedy hosts like his own former boss, Stephen Colbert.

During a Thursday appearance on journalist Kara Swisher’s podcast — On With Kara Swisher — Licht argued that Gutfeld’s late-night comedic offering “Gutfeld!” could not be compared to traditional late-night programming, saying that it was “entertaining,” but he “wouldn’t put it in the same category.”

Swisher introduced the topic by asking how a news-first network like CNN could compete with the typical late-night fare on other networks — and she noted that Gutfeld had been fairly effective in bridging that gap at Fox News.

Pointing out the fact that some — including her own sons — often got their “news” with a side of humorous commentary from hosts like John Oliver, Swisher asked whether networks that included that type of programming held an advantage over a network that was trying to stick to the news alone — as CNN appears to be doing under Licht’s leadership.

“Colbert is very influential in news. Could you inform a broader audience there than you could at CNN? My sons don’t watch CNN. They watch John Oliver, and that’s where they get their news,” Swisher explained.

Licht pushed back: “But it’s not news.”

“But it is, it’s a point of view and it’s pretty smart,” Swisher replied — and Licht agreed, to a point.

“But I think we’re offering something different. And I think, there are certainly elements of that kind of delivery, right? Not necessarily comedy … it’s informed perspective programming that allows you to make your own decisions,” he said.

Licht objected further when Swisher suggested CNN might offer a late-night show like “Gutfeld!” — and suggested that he didn’t even put the Fox News ratings juggernaut in the same camp as the late-night shows on the legacy networks.

“I would call him — just an entertaining show. I would not call him a late-night show. As someone who worked on a late-night show and knows what goes into that, I wouldn’t put it in the same category,” Licht said.

“He beat Colbert, but go ahead,” Swisher shot back.

“Are we gonna get into this conversation? That’s not true,” Licht said, adding, “I’m still gonna defend my friend, Stephen.”

Swisher again argued that Licht, with his own experience working in late-night television, might want to consider bringing one to CNN. “You’re good at making these shows. Why not have one there? If you’re talking about a panoply of things to give to people,” she said.

Licht’s interview is available here:

Obvi the media eats this one up, but this is a really interesting chat with new ⁦@CNN⁩ head Chris Licht for non insiders. A lot to unpack.

— Kara Swisher (@karaswisher) November 17, 2022

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