Chris Licht, Chairman and CEO, CNN Worldwide speaks onstage during the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront 2022 show at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 18, 2022 in New York City.
Kevin Mazur | Getty Images
Embattled CNN Chief Executive Chris Licht apologized to the news organization’s staff Monday morning during the cable news network’s 9 a.m. ET call, according to people familiar with the matter.
Licht told staffers he didn’t recognize himself in a 15,000-word profile story in The Atlantic that published Friday. The story documented his views on CNN’s coverage and his attempts at winning over staffers during his first year on the job.
Some CNN staffers saw the Licht magazine profile as showing poor judgment at a time when ratings are falling and employees are openly rebelling against his decision last month to air a Donald Trump town hall with hundreds of his cheering fans. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav wasn’t pleased with the profile, titled “Inside the Meltdown at CNN,” and agreed it was mishandled, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Licht said during the call he understands staffers’ frustration and is intent on earning his employees’ trust, said the people. He didn’t specifically speak to why he participated in The Atlantic profile, in which reporter Tim Alberta spent months with Licht, including joining him at the gym during a personal training session and attending backstage CNN programming rehearsals. Licht’s remarks were short, said the people, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
A CNN spokesperson declined to comment.
Licht announced the hiring of David Leavy on Thursday as the network’s new chief operating officer. Leavy will be tasked with taking over marketing, public relations, advertising sales, facilities and other logistics.
The move will allow Licht to focus more on programming, which is his background. Licht helped launched MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” as its executive producer in 2007 and later became executive producer and showrunner of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS.
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