Chris Licht is out after just over a year as chairman and chief executive of CNN, the news organization’s parent company announced Wednesday.
The news comes after Licht’s leadership drew national media attention — including a lengthy profile in The Atlantic — and raised questions among high-profile CNN anchors about Licht’s ability to lead the company.
“I have great respect for Chris, personally and professionally,” Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav said in a statement.
“The job of leading CNN was never going to be easy, especially at a time of huge disruption and transformation, and he has poured his heart and soul into it. While we know we have work to do as we look to identify a new leader, we have absolute confidence in the team we have in place and will continue to fight for CNN and its world-class journalism,” Zaslav added.
For now, the network will be run by an “interim leadership team” that includes executives Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, and Eric Sherling.
Licht’s time at CNN saw him attempt to make himself different from former CNN CEO Jeff Zucker, who often clashed with former President Donald Trump. Licht, on apparent orders from Zaslav, attempted to move the news organization to the political center and make it more appealing to conservative voices.
He fired longtime anchor Brian Stelter and launched CNN This Morning with Don Lemon, Kaitlan Collins, and Poppy Harlow as hosts. Licht would fire Lemon in April following Variety published an article detailing allegations that he had mistreated female colleagues.
Licht was slammed by critics as well as some of his own network’s staff for hosting a live town hall event with Trump on May 10, which saw the hall filled with Trump supporters as he bashed CNN host Kaitlan Collins on air.
“America was served very well by what we did last night,” Licht said of the town hall event with Trump the next day.
It lead to a 15,000 titled article in the Atlantic titled “Inside the Meltdown at CNN” by Tim Alberta. The article would be the thing that pushed everyone over the edge at CNN.
“Every move he made, big programming decisions and small tactical maneuvers alike, seemed to backfire. By most metrics, the network under Licht’s leadership had reached its historic nadir,” Alberta wrote.