CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery confirmed in a statement that CNN Worldwide Chairman and CEO Chris Licht resigned on Wednesday, effective immediately. Warner Bros. Discovery said they have undertaken “an active search for a replacement,” and that executives Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, Eric Sherling and David Leavy will lead CNN. David Leavy, a key Zaslav ally, was recently named the network’s new chief operating officer, which 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.
President and CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, David Zaslav, said: “I have great respect for Chris, personally and professionally. 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.”
Licht’s tenure was faced with controversy, beginning when he eliminated the CNN+ streaming service. He drew criticism in recent weeks after the network hosted a town hall with Donald Trump that was packed with Trump supporters. Despite drawing 3.3 million viewers, CNN’s ratings plummeted afterward and two days after the town hall, CNN’s prime-time viewership came in below right-wing outlet Newsmax.
Additionally, an unflattering 15,000-word profile of Licht in The Atlantic titled “Inside the Meltdown at CNN” seemed to seal Light’s fate. Top brass at Warner Bros. Discovery, including Zaslav, weren’t happy with the article and the aftermath, and Licht apologized to staffers Monday morning.
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