Chris Licht, the embattled chief executive and president of CNN Serious mistakesHe left the company on Wednesday.
“I met with Chris and he will be leaving CNN,” David Zaslau, chief executive of parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, told CNN employees at the start of the network’s daily editorial meeting.
Licht’s departure caps a tumultuous year for CNN RedundanciesShrinking profits, historically low valuations, the Gun fire Two Announcers, and rock-bottom employee morale. The chaos that defined last year followed several gut punches, including the setup Easter Previous Chairman Jeff Zucker and Clogging The new streaming service is CNN+.
“This has been an exciting but incredibly challenging task and I have learned a lot over the past 13 months,” Licht said in a statement. “I’ve been fortunate to have a successful, fulfilling career and look forward to my next chapter. I wish the CNN team all the best.
Licht, who became network president last May after leading “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” to success, has seen his tenure beset by harsh criticism in the press. skills or editorial vision.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery
Chris Licht, former president and CEO, CNN Worldwide.
The Final Death is a 15,000-word apocalypse Atlantic That was published on Friday. The blistering piece, in which writer Tim Alberta spoke to more than 100 CNN employees, sharply questioned Licht’s ability to lead the company into the future.
In the wake of The Atlantic article, Licht tried to take his stand again. He Apologized He vowed to “fight like hell” to win back the employees and their trust.
But it became increasingly clear that Licht’s tenure as chief executive was far from assured and was soon coming to an end. Top anchors and reporters, rank-and-file employees, hit the wall with Leach. The CNN president literally lost the room.
The picture quickly became clearer for Jasla, who last week named his top lieutenant, David Levy, as CNN’s chief operating officer. Over the weekend, after The Atlantic story crystallized concerns Zaslav had with Licht’s leadership over the past several months, the Warner Bros. Discovery chief began seriously considering relieving him of his duties, a person familiar with the matter said. Plagued by a series of injuries, it became clear that Licht could no longer lead the company. The final decision to remove Licht was ultimately made by Zaslav earlier this week, the person said.
On Wednesday morning, Licht was told he was being let go as a top executive at CNN, a person familiar with the matter said. CNN’s top two heads of communications, Kris Coratti Kelly and Matt Dornic, and Licht’s chief executive, Devan Gaya, will also leave the company, the person said.
Licht was not mentioned at Wednesday’s meeting when Zaslau announced his departure. Licht did not comment on his departure in a press release issued by Warner Bros. Discovery.
Zaslav, who took responsibility for the chaos at CNN in recent months, said Licht’s job “will not be easy” and praised his “amazing career.”
“For a number of reasons, things didn’t work out, which is unfortunate,” Zaslau said. “It’s really unfortunate. Ultimately it’s on me. I take full responsibility for it.
Zaslau warned CNN employees that the company is “in the process of conducting an extensive search” internally and externally for a new network leader.
In the interim, Zaslav said, the leadership team will include three senior network executives: Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development; Virginia Mosley, Executive Vice President of Editorial; and Eric Scherling, executive vice president of US programming. Levy will continue to oversee the company’s business operations.
“We have great confidence in this team and will fully support them until a new CEO is named,” Zaslau said in a statement emailed to CNN staff. “We are in good hands, allowing us to take the time necessary to conduct a thoughtful and thorough search for a new leader.”
Licht’s brief and difficult tenure as the network’s president came after he found huge success in morning news, producing MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” before revamping “CBS Sunday Morning.”
Most recently, before joining CNN, Licht hosted Colbert’s show while it became the highest-rated late-night show on television.
Licht couldn’t recreate that magic at CNN, stumbling and facing enormous criticism soon after taking the job.
Licht’s first task was to dismantle CNN+, which had been hailed by CNN’s previous leadership as the network’s streaming future. Employees knew that Lich’s decision to ax the streamer wasn’t his own, but shutting down the highly-acclaimed service gave him a tough opening hand.
The staff, however, were open-minded. Many were excited by the appointment of Licht, who has experience as a producer and a track record of success at other networks.
But Licht quickly squandered much of that goodwill with a series of missteps. Unlike Zucker, who maintained an office on a newsroom floor at CNN’s Hudson Yards office in New York, Licht separated himself from the network’s journalists, isolating the president from his staff.
Licht went on to fire Brian Stelter, the network’s respected chief media correspondent and host of “Reliable Sources.” He also fired other prominent CNN journalists, raising eyebrows among staffers.
But Licht saw his position within the organization further erode when he announced last year that there would be significant layoffs, despite suggesting that staff cuts were not on the horizon. Hundreds of CNN employees were laid off in late November and early December.
Programming changes made by Leach were also problematic. His first big move was revamping the network’s morning show. Licht anchors “CNN This Morning,” featuring hosts Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. The show never grew in ratings from its predecessor and was mired in tabloid drama. Lemon apologized for sexist comments he made during an episode and was eventually fired from the network earlier this year.
However, Licht, A City Hall With former President Donald Trump. The event last month, which turned chaotic at times, was widely talked about as a mistake.
Criticism of the event came not only from viewers, but also from CNN’s staff. Celebrity anchor Christian Amanpour grabbed the headlines Difference of opinion From Licht during a Columbia Journalism School commencement address.
The Rocky episode, which generated negative media coverage for Licht and CNN, set the stage for The Atlantic’s poor profile. Alberta, the book’s author, was granted unprecedented access to Leach for a year and portrayed the CNN boss as unfit for the job. Licht didn’t help himself either, making several comments to Alberta that didn’t sit well with CNN employees, including comments disparaging the network’s journalism before his appointment.
In the final days, Licht understood what alienated employees. But it was too late.
This story was updated from the source.