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CNN CEO Chris Licht apologized to staff during a 9:00 a.m. call Monday following the Atlantic publishing a 15,000-word profile piece about him.
For months, Tim Alberta conducted interviews with Licht, who has served as the cable news network’s CEO since May 2022.
The profile, published Friday and titled ”Inside the Meltdown at CNN,” painted Licht in an unfavorable light. Throughout the piece Licht appears to be constantly obsessed with his image and comparing himself to predecessor Jeff Zucker.
During an early morning workout, Alberta recounted Licht bent over to grab a bar and said, “Zucker couldn’t do this s**t.”
Variety noted that people familiar with Monday’s call report Licht telling staff:
I should not be in the news unless it’s taking arrows for you.Your work is what should be written about. 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.
Internal conflict at CNN sparked after Licht approved airing Donald Trump’s town hall last month. The event garnered the network 3.23 million views, about five times higher than its typical viewership, Breitbart News reported.
But a week after the town hall, viewership fell to its lowest week since 2015, the Independent noted.
Following the town hall, the “network’s viewership was down by double digits when compared to the same week last year.”
During the meeting, Licht told staff that he would be moving to a new office located across from CNN’s New York news gathering team.
Last week, Warner Bros. Discovery chose David Leavy to be the new chief operating officer at CNN. He is expected to take control of marketing, advertising, and distribution. Licht will focus more on programming.
Prior to joining CNN, Licht was an executive producer and showrunner of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.