Chris Licht To Step Down At CNN

Licht was under fire following a series of controversies, including hosting a town hall with former President Donald Trump.

CNN’s embattled chief Chris Licht will step down from the role after a tumultuous year at the top of the network.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav reportedly confirmed the news during the network’s morning call Wednesday.

“I met with Chris and he will be leaving CNN,” he said.

Zaslav said he took “full responsibility” for Licht’s troubled year at the top.

“For a number of reasons, it didn’t work out. And that’s on me,” he told the over 800 staffers who joined the meeting, according to Axios’ Sara Fischer.

In an email to staff formally announcing Licht’s exit, Zaslav said he has “enormous respect” for Licht and wished him “all the best.”

Zaslav said the company is in “no rush” to name a new CEO, adding Licht will be succeeded by a team of three current CNN executives in the interim period: Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development at CNN Worldwide; Virginia Moseley, executive vice president of editorial at CNN U.S.; and Eric Sherling, executive vice president of U.S. Programming.

David Leavy, a Zaslav lieutenant who was appointed chief operating officer at the network last week, will manage the business side of CNN.

Licht, who was not on the morning call, issued a statement on his exit: “This was an exciting but incredibly challenging assignment and I learned a lot over the past 13 months. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a successful, fulfilling career and I look forward to my next chapter. I wish the team at CNN the very best, always.”

Licht was under fire following a series of controversies, including hosting a town hall with former President Donald Trump, which were detailed in a damaging profile by The Atlantic Friday.

While Licht apologized to CNN staffers during the network’s 9 a.m. editorial call on Monday for becoming a distraction and vowed to fight to earn back their trust, it seems the writing was already on the wall for Licht.

CNN’s own media reporter Oliver Darcy had reported that many people within the organization shared the consensus that Licht had “lost the room.”

Even top talent, including Jake Tapper, Anderson Cooper and Erin Burnett, reportedly expressed concerns about Licht’s leadership, according to The Wall Street Journal.

During Licht’s leadership, the network saw poor ratings and lower profits. Last year the network brought in $750 million in profits, down from $1.25 billion in 2021, according to The New York Times.

He also announced the closure of CNN’s streaming platform CNN+ in April 2022, and implemented layoffs in November.

Licht was tapped by Zaslav last year to take over after Jeff Zucker resigned citing an undisclosed relationship with then-CNN colleague Allison Gollust. Licht previously worked as an executive producer for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.”

This story has been updated with Licht’s statement.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot