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CNN's Chris Licht leaves network after scathing article torches his brief, tumultuous leadership


CNN CEO Chris Licht (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Semafor)

After a little over a year on the job, CNN CEO Chris Licht is out at the network following a brutal profile piece published in the Atlantic, criticizing his turbulent leadership and failed efforts to turn plummeting ratings around.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav notified CNN staffers on Wednesday morning that Licht would be leaving the cable network, according to the Washington Post.

"I have great respect for Chris, personally and professionally," Zaslav said in a statement Wednesday. "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."

In 2022, Zaslav hired Licht to replace Jeff Zucker, who was forced to resign after failing to disclose a romantic relationship with a colleague to the network.

Following Licht's departure, an acting leadership team of CNN executives, including Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, Eric Sherling, and David Leavy, will lead the network until a permanent replacement is hired.

Rumors circulated regarding Licht's uncertain future at CNN after Zaslav recently brought on Leavy as the network's new chief operating officer. Last week, Puck's Dylan Byers reported that "for all intents and purposes," Leavy was hired to take over many of Licht's responsibilities.

Licht's days at CNN seemed to be numbered following his recent participation in a devastating 15,000-word profile piece published by the Atlantic on Friday.

The article, "Inside the Meltdown at CNN" by Tim Alberta, torched Licht for his poor decision-making and multiple severe missteps that failed to boost the network's performance.

According to a network insider, Licht apologized to CNN staffers about the negative press during a Monday morning call, Fox News Digital reported.

"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 said.

"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."

Zaslav told CNN staffers on Wednesday that the network is "in the process of conducting a wide search, internally and externally, for a new leader."

"For a number of reasons, things didn't work out. And that's unfortunate. It's really unfortunate," Zaslav added. "And ultimately, that's on me. And I take full responsibility for that. But now we begin a new page."

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