(The Hill) — Chris Licht, the embattled CEO of CNN, plans to step down as the company’s top executive after just one year on the job, bringing an end to his tumultuous tenure as the cable news network’s chief executive.
The news was announced to staffers on the network’s Wednesday morning editorial call, a source told The Hill, after multiple reports surfaced early in the day that Licht was leaving.
David Zaslav, president and CEO of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, joined the call and said he has “great respect for Chris, personally and professionally.”
“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,” Zaslav said. “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.”
An interim leadership team will be put in place effective immediately, including 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, as well as David Leavy, chief operating officer.
Licht’s ouster comes just days after a scathing 15,000-word profile of Licht that earned him widespread condemnation from CNN staffers and fueled internal speculation about his job security.
In the profile, Licht was quoted criticizing the network’s coverage of the coronavirus pandemic before his arrival last May and assuring journalist Tim Alberta, who authored the piece, that CNN’s corporate ownership “has his back.”
Licht on Monday apologized to staffers for the negative attention the piece had sparked.
“As I read that article, I found myself thinking, CNN is not about me,” Licht said. “I should not be in the news unless it’s taking arrows for you. Your work is what should be written about.”