Chris Licht, Chairman and CEO of CNN Worldwide speaks on stage during the Warner Bros. Discovery Upfront 2022 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on May 18, 2022 in New York City.
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CNN CEO Chris Licht apologized to the news organization’s staff during the cable news network’s 9 a.m. ET call Monday morning, 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 ran Friday. The story documented his views on CNN news and his attempts to recruit during his first year on the job.
Some CNN employees saw Licht’s magazine profile as poor judgment at a time when ratings are falling and staffers are openly rebelling against his decision last month to air Donald Trump town hall with hundreds of his cheering fans. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav was unhappy with the profile, titled “Inside the Meltdown at CNN,” and agreed that it was mishandled, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Licht said during the call that he understands employee frustration and intends to earn the trust of his employees, the people said. He did not say specifically why he attended Profile of the Atlantic, in which reporter Tim Alberta spent months with Licht, including joining him in the gym during personal training and attending CNN’s behind-the-scenes rehearsals. Licht’s remarks were brief, said the people, who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
A CNN spokesman declined to comment.
Licht announced the hiring of David Leavy as the network on Thursday new operations director. 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 launch 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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