Is Chris Licht Fired from CNN? Why did CNN fire CEO?
by Alaguvelan M | Updated Jun 08, 2023
Chris Licht, an accomplished American television newsman, and producer, has made significant contributions to the industry throughout his career. Recognized as the showrunner and executive producer of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, as well as the executive vice president of special programming at CBS, Licht has left an indelible mark on the late-night television landscape.
Born in Newtown, Connecticut, in 1971, Licht pursued his passion for communications at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, earning his degree in 1993. He embarked on his professional journey as a producer, lending his talents to esteemed news programs such as Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and 20/20.
In 2006, Licht joined The Late Show With David Letterman as a producer and later rose to the position of showrunner in 2010. Following Letterman's retirement in 2015, Licht assumed the role of showrunner for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, demonstrating his ability to guide and shape successful television productions.
Beyond his notable work on The Late Show, Licht has lent his expertise to various other television ventures. He has produced shows like Our Cartoon President, CBS This Morning, and Morning Joe, showcasing his versatility and commitment to delivering compelling content. Additionally, he has contributed as a writer and producer to esteemed late-night talk shows such as Late Night with Conan O'Brien and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Licht's talent and contributions have been duly recognized, earning him two Emmy Awards. He was awarded Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series in 2009 for his work on The Late Show With David Letterman and won Outstanding Variety Series in 2017 for his exceptional contributions to The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.
In 2023, Licht's career reached another milestone as he assumed the position of CEO at CNN, becoming the first person to lead the network since the departure of Jeff Zucker in February 2022. This appointment reflects the industry's recognition of Licht's capabilities and his potential to bring a fresh perspective to CNN, enabling the network to navigate the competitive news landscape successfully.
Beyond his professional endeavors, Licht enjoys a fulfilling personal life. He is married to Jenny Blanco, a producer for The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, and together they have two children.
Licht's reputation as a respected figure in the television industry stems from his sharp wit, creative vision, and ability to produce high-quality programming. With his extensive experience and proven track record, he is poised to make a positive impact at CNN, rejuvenating the network and propelling it toward future success.
Is Chris Licht Fired From CNN?
On June 7, 2023, Chris Licht was terminated from his position at CNN. Licht had served as the chairman and CEO of CNN for a little over a year. The decision to remove Licht from his role was reportedly made by David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery.
Licht joined CNN in February 2022 with the aim of revitalizing the network's ratings. During his tenure, he implemented various changes, such as recruiting new talent and restructuring the network's programming. Unfortunately, despite these efforts, CNN's ratings continued to decline, leading to Zaslav's alleged dissatisfaction with Licht's leadership approach.
In a memo addressed to CNN staff, Zaslav announced that he would be making alterations to the network's leadership team and that Licht would be stepping down as chairman and CEO. Zaslav expressed his gratitude for Licht's service and extended his best wishes for Licht's future endeavors.
Licht's dismissal arrives at a challenging period for CNN. The network faces difficulties in competing with cable news rivals such as Fox News and MSNBC in terms of ratings. Additionally, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu pose increasing competition to CNN's viewership.
The identity of Licht's successor as chairman and CEO of CNN is yet to be determined. Zaslav disclosed that he would initiate a search for a new leader and promised to provide further details in due course.
Regardless of the rationale behind Licht's termination, it represents a significant setback for CNN. Licht had been a rising star in the media industry, and his departure indicates that Zaslav is willing to make difficult decisions. The task of the incoming leader, whoever they may be, will undoubtedly be challenging. CNN confronts multiple hurdles, demanding a resilient and capable leader to steer the network toward a positive trajectory.
Why did CNN fire CEO?
Chris Licht, the CEO, and chairman of CNN departed from the company on Wednesday after a turbulent one-year tenure. The announcement was made by David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, during CNN's daily editorial meeting.
Licht's departure comes at the end of a challenging year for CNN, marked by layoffs, declining profits, historically low ratings, the dismissal of two anchors, and low employee morale. The past year was filled with turmoil, including the removal of the previous leader, Jeff Zucker, and the closure of the nascent streaming service CNN+.
In a statement, Licht acknowledged the difficulties of his role and expressed gratitude for the experience, while looking forward to the next chapter of his career. However, throughout his tenure, Licht faced intense criticism from the press, often fueled by leaks from skeptical employees who questioned his leadership abilities and editorial vision.
The tipping point came with a damning profile published in The Atlantic, which extensively interviewed over 100 CNN employees and raised serious doubts about Licht's ability to guide the organization's future. In response, Licht apologized to staff members and vowed to regain their trust.
Despite his efforts, it became evident that Licht's position as CEO was untenable and nearing its end. Both high-profile anchors and ordinary staff members had lost faith in Licht's leadership. Recognizing the situation, Zaslav appointed David Leavy, his top lieutenant, as CNN's chief operating officer. The critical Atlantic article further solidified Zaslav's concerns about Licht's leadership, leading him to seriously consider relieving him of his duties.
Ultimately, Zaslav made the decision to remove Licht earlier this week, with Licht being informed of his termination on Wednesday morning. Alongside Licht, CNN's top communications leaders, Kris Coratti Kelly, and Matt Dornic, as well as Licht's chief of staff, Devan Cayea, will also be departing from the company. Licht's absence was notable during the meeting where Zaslav announced his departure, and the press release issued by Warner Bros. Discovery did not include a comment from Licht.
Zaslav took responsibility for the recent chaos at CNN and acknowledged that Licht's role was challenging. He commended Licht's career and wished him well for the future, expressing regret that things didn't work out. Zaslav assured CNN employees that a thorough search, both internal and external, will be conducted to find a new network chief, emphasizing that the process will take time.
In the interim, three experienced network executives, Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, and Eric Sherling, will form the leadership team, while Leavy will oversee commercial activities. Zaslav expressed confidence in this group and assured staff that they would receive full support until a new CEO is appointed. The company aims to conduct a thoughtful and comprehensive search for a new leader.
Does Chris Licht Own CNN?
No, Chris Licht is not the owner of CNN. CNN is owned by Warner Bros. Discovery, a subsidiary of AT&T. Although Licht was appointed as the CEO of CNN in May 2022, he does not possess ownership of the company.
Licht is a renowned television producer who has been involved in the creation of several popular shows, including The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and The Late Late Show with James Corden. His notable traits include a sharp wit and the ability to develop captivating content. With his appointment as CEO, Licht was anticipated to bring a fresh perspective to CNN and assist the network in reclaiming its position in the competitive news landscape.
However, Licht's tenure at CNN was short-lived, as he was terminated in March 2023 following a tumultuous period in his leadership role. Reports indicate that his one-year tenure was marred by challenges, including criticism from employees and stakeholders, a decline in viewership, and the departure of talent.
Despite the challenges and his departure, Licht's impact on the network cannot be overlooked. During his time as CEO and Chairman, he introduced several changes aimed at revitalizing CNN's ratings and relevance. These initiatives included a significant newsroom restructuring, increased investment in digital content, and a renewed emphasis on breaking news coverage. While his efforts to transform CNN into a more modern and agile media company garnered both praise and criticism, Licht's legacy at CNN will be remembered.
It is essential to clarify that Chris Licht was an employee of CNN and did not have ownership rights in the company. Nevertheless, his significant contributions to the media industry throughout his career remain noteworthy.
Is Chris Licht Fired From CNN - FAQs
Yes, Chris Licht was fired from CNN.
The specific reasons for Chris Licht's firing from CNN have not been disclosed publicly.
Chris Licht served as the CEO of CNN for approximately one year.
Yes, Chris Licht encountered challenges during his tenure at CNN, including criticism from employees, declining viewership, and talent departures.
The replacement for Chris Licht as the CEO of CNN has not been announced publicly.