Chris Licht, Chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide.
Chris Licht is out at CNN after leading the news network for a little more than a year, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The chief executive’s departure comes as he faced a rebellion among CNN’s talent and staff. His tenure was riddled with programming missteps and rock-bottom ratings.
He drew even more heated criticism in recent weeks after the network hosted a town hall with Donald Trump that was packed with scores of the former president’s cheering fans. While the event drew 3.3 million viewers, CNN’s ratings plummeted afterward. Two days after the town hall, CNN’s primetime viewership came in below right wing outlet Newsmax, a much smaller network.
But it was an unflattering 15,000-word profile of Licht in The Atlantic that might have sealed his fate. He apologized to staffers Monday morning, but top brass at CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, including CEO David Zaslav, weren’t happy with the article and the aftermath.
The move comes soon after David Leavy, a key Zaslav ally, was named the network’s new chief operating officer. Leavy was tasked with taking over marketing, public relations, advertising sales, facilities and other logistics.
The move was intended to allow Licht to focus more on programming. Licht helped launch MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” as its executive producer in 2007 and later became executive producer and showrunner of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS.
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Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of MSNBC and CNBC.