CEO Chris Licht has left the building at CNN following a disastrous series of missteps and ratings plunges that have left the once-venerable news cable station reeling.
Licht joined the network just one year ago in an attempt by leadership to reorient coverage back to its non-partisan posture after years of publicly feuding with the Trump administration. His ouster comes after a lengthy story in The Atlantic describing a toxic workplace and quoting subordinates worried about the rudderless news network.
David Zaslav, the CEO of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, announced the shakeup on CNN’s editorial call Wednesday morning.
After replacing former CEO Jeff Zucker who left following his relationship with a subordinate, Licht was tasked with drawing back CNN’s viewership with breaking news coverage, documentaries, and town halls like the one recently held with former President Donald Trump and moderated by rising star host Kaitlan Collins. Licht and network leadership shouldered the blame following harsh public criticism that the town hall allowed Trump to make claims without refutation in front of a friendly audience.
While the Trump town hall was a ratings bonanza for the struggling network, its regular coverage had recently slumped so low as to be beaten by upstart rivals like Newsmax, a once-unthinkable outcome. CNN’s ratings for the month of May were half that of rival MSNBC, with Fox News continuing its juggernaut lead among cable news networks.
According to the Associated Press, Zaslav has appointed four current CNN executives — Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, Eric Sherling and David Leavy — to run the network while a search for a replacement is conducted.
“We are in good hands, allowing us to take the time we need to run a thoughtful and thorough search for a new leader,” Zaslav said in a memo to CNN staff.