Chris Licht, the embattled CEO and chairman of CNN Serious mistakesLeaving the company.
“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 call Wednesday.
Licht’s departure, which came days after a disastrous 15,000-word stint at The Atlantic, capped a tumultuous year for CNN marked by layoffs, historically low ratings and rock-bottom staff morale.
Following The Atlantic article, Licht Apologized He told staff on Monday that he didn’t recognize parts of the story while reading it, and that he regretted distracting the newsroom from its work.
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery
Chris Licht, former president and CEO, CNN Worldwide
Describing the experience as “very humbling,” Licht vowed to “fight like hell” to earn the employees’ trust.
But it became increasingly clear that Lich’s tenure as chief executive was coming to an end soon. Licht had no comment on his departure and did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Zaslav said Licht’s task “won’t be easy” and praised him for the “amazing career” he’s had, wishing him well in his future endeavors.
“Things didn’t work out for a number of reasons, which is unfortunate,” Zaslau said. “It’s really unfortunate. Ultimately it’s on me. I take full responsibility for that.
Zaslav told CNN staff that the company is “in the process of conducting an extensive search” internally and externally for a new network leader. He warned that “it will take some time”.
Meanwhile, the Zaslav leadership team will include 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. David Levy, recently appointed Chief Operating Officer, 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.” Prior to joining CNN, Licht was executive producer of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” the highest-rated late-night show on television.
But at CNN, Licht stumbled and quickly faced criticism. Licht’s first move at the network was to replace former CNN president Jeff Zucker, who was well-liked by staff, and eliminate CNN+, which had been hailed by previous network leadership as the future of CNN’s streaming. Zucker was fired in February 2022 for failing to disclose a relationship with a deputy.
Unlike Zucker, who held 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 announced mass layoffs at CNN in December. But a town hall Licht organized with former President Donald Trump last month was widely criticized as a mistake. Licht faced criticism from both inside and outside the town hall, including from celebrity host Christiane Amanpour during Columbia Journalism School. Opening speech.