CNN CEO Chris Licht Ousted After Trump Interview and “Severe Missteps”

CNN CEO Chris Licht Ousted After Trump Interview and “Severe Missteps”

CNN CEO Chris Licht has departed the position after a short and tumultuous one-year tenor which included a series of “missteps” including a disastrous town hall with Donald Trump.

Licht is reported to have left the news broadcaster on Wednesday, less than a week after The Atlantic published a scathing review of his time at CNN.

CNN’s own news website said Licht’s “brief one-year tenure at the network was stained by a series of severe missteps”.

“I met with Chris and he will be leaving CNN,” David Zaslav, chief executive of parent company Warner Bros Discovery, told employees at the start of the daily editorial call CNN said, adding: “Licht has not commented on his departure and he did not immediately respond to requests for comment”.

In a staff email (reported by Reuters) Zaslav said the company was looking for a new leader.

“This job was never going to be easy, especially at a time of great disruption and transformation, and Chris poured his heart and soul into it,” Zaslav said. “Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we had hoped – and ultimately that’s on me.”

Licht’s tumultuous stint at CNN was marked by low ratings, layoffs and shrinking profits. His first big move was to shut the newly-launched CNN+ streaming service which led to hundreds of layoffs. It is reported that the layoffs left the remaining staff demoralised.

One of his most famous controversial decisions was the town hall with ex-president Donald Trump.

Trump’s appearance on the network caused widespread debate after he continued to tell lies about electoral fraud, praised the rioters who stormed the Capitol, and called moderator Kaitlan Collins a “nasty person”.

Licht was criticised for the decision to have him on by CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour.


Donald Trump used the CNN platform to spread misinformation

She said the network should not have hosted the event and should have “dropped the mic” when Trump got personal.

“My management believes they did the right thing, a service to the American people,” she said at a speech to graduates of the Columbia Journalism School in New York City on Wednesday night (Thursday AEST).

“For me, of course, the fact that the American people voted three times against Trump and Trumpism- 2018, 2020, 2022- also speaks volumes. We’ve done our duty. We have told the story. We have put that in everybody’s awareness and people have had the opportunity to make their choices and they have done.”

Amanpour said she had a “very robust exchange of views” with network chief executive Chris Licht at CNN’s New York headquarters following the show.

Licht’s previous roles include showrunner and executive producer of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, as well as CBS’s executive vice president of special programming.

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