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CNN's Chris Licht apologizes to staff for 'distracting' headlines about his turbulent leadership: 'I should not be in the news'

CNN CEO Chris Licht Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CNN)

During a Monday morning call, CNN CEO Chris Licht apologized to staff for a "distracting" profile story published Friday by the Atlantic detailing his turbulent leadership during his first year at the network.

The Atlantic issued a devastating 15,000-word piece, "Inside the Meltdown at CNN" by Tim Alberta, which slammed Licht for his poor decision-making amid CNN's plummeting ratings.

The article described the outlet's heavily-criticized town hall with former President Donald Trump that aired last month and Licht's strained working relationship with former network host Don Lemon.

"Every move he made, big programming decisions and small tactical maneuvers alike, seemed to backfire," the profile stated of Licht.

According to CNBC, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was reportedly not pleased with the Licht profile story.

In a statement to the Atlantic, Zaslav said through his head of communications, "While we know that it will take time to complete the important work that's underway, we have great confidence in the progress that Chris and the team are making and share their conviction in the strategy."

Puck's Dylan Byers also published an article last week addressing rumors that Licht's days at CNN might be numbered, citing Zaslav's recent hiring of David Leavy as the network's new COO. According to Byers, "for all intents and purposes," Leavy was brought on to absorb many of Licht's responsibilities.

Byers claimed that Zaslav's statement to the Atlantic was "by no means a ringing endorsement of Licht, but rather a generic, ChatGPT-style statement of support that provides him total optionality for CNN's future."

Adding fuel to the fire, former CNN correspondent Brian Stelter published an article in New York Magazine on Sunday blasting Licht for participating in the Atlantic's profile piece.

Stelter claimed that approximately 40 CNN employees contacted him, many complaining about Licht's leadership.

A network insider revealed to Fox News Digital that Licht told CNN staffers during a Monday morning editorial call that he was sorry for participating in the Atlantic's profile piece.

"I know these past few days have been very hard for this group. I fully recognize that this news cycle and my role in it overshadowed the incredible week of reporting that we just had, and distracted from the work of every single journalist in this org. And for that, I am sorry," Licht reportedly stated.

"As I read that article, I found myself thinking, CNN is not about me… I should not be in the news unless it's taking arrows for you. Your work is what should be written about," Licht continued. "To those whose trust I've lost, I will fight like hell to win it back, because you deserve a leader who will be in the trenches, fighting to ensure CNN remains the world's most trusted name in news."

CNN declined a request for comment, CNBC reported.

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