Chris Cuomo believes there’s room in the middle

FILE - In this Nov. 10, 2015 file photo, Chris Cuomo arrives at the 9th Annual Stand Up For Heroes in New York. Cuomo envisions his new CNN prime-time show as a haven for independent thinkers who want their preconceptions tested. His challenge is finding enough people who want that from a cable news network. His show debuts Monday, June 4, 2018 in direct competition with two of the biggest names in cable news: Sean Hannity of Fox News Channel and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC. (Photo by Michael Zorn/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK — Chris Cuomo envisions his new CNN prime-time show as a haven for independent thinkers who want their preconceptions tested. His challenge is finding enough people who want that on a cable news network.

He’s swimming against a strong tide. Fox News Channel and MSNBC are thriving with prime-time programming that appeals to partisans of each side, most emphatically with Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow in the 9 p.m. Eastern time slot where “Cuomo Prime Time” lands Monday.

Cuomo respects the success of his rivals, but believes it reflects a troubling trend.

“What you see is people retreating to their corners — left and right, spreading apart,” he said. “I don’t know where that gets us. I think the pursuit has to be for independent thinking — people who are open, people who are pushing those in power to do things for them, to find common ground and act on it, and to test arguments, not merely go to a place where you get told what you believe and hear an echo.”

The numbers sharply illustrate how many viewers have retreated into tribes during the Trump era.

Fox has long been a favorite of Republican viewers, and the most-watched cable news network overall. During the last three months of 2016, encompassing the presidential election, MSNBC (1.64 million) and CNN (1.57 million) were roughly equivalent in prime-time, weeknight viewership, the Nielsen company said. Fast forward to the first quarter of this year, MSNBC averaged 2.36 million viewers and CNN had 1.16 million.