Chris Licht’s short, beleaguered time as chairman and CEO of CNN is ending.
Warner Bros. Discovery announced this morning that Licht has stepped down, effective immediately.
WBD named what it described as an “interim” leadership team that includes David Leavy — who became CNN’s chief operating officer just last week — on the operational side, with programming to be handled by Amy Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development; Virginia Moseley, executive vice president of editorial; and Eric Sherling, executive vice president of U.S. programming.
Leavy’s appointment as COO was widely suspected to signal the imminent departure of Licht, who implemented programming and structural changes but was unable to staunch the ratings bleeding at the world’s largest news network during his brief, one-year tenure.
However, WBD chairman/CEO David Zaslav did not anoint Leavy as CNN's new CEO, at least in this morning's announcement, which indicated that WBD is still "looking to identify" a new leader.
Licht faced daunting challenges when he assumed the role, and his fate may have been sealed by the publication of a lengthy, embarrassing profile in The Atlantic last Friday, which came not long after a widely criticized “town hall” broadcast with Donald Trump.
According to various reports, the network’s leading newscasters, including Jake Tapper, Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper, have been voicing their concerns about Licht’s leadership.
“I have great respect for Chris, personally and professionally,” Zaslav stated in the announcement of Licht’s departure. “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 joined CNN in May 2022, having served as executive vice president of special programming at CBS and executive producer and showrunner for “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” Prior to that, he was vice president of programming for CBS News and executive producer of the network’s morning news program, “CBS This Morning,” which he helped launch in 2012. Prior to CBS, Licht was the co-creator and original executive producer of MSNBC’s popular morning news show, “Morning Joe.”