'That's on me': Warner Bros Discovery CEO sends email to CNN employees taking responsibility for Chris Licht disaster
- Chris Licht is leaving his position as CEO of CNN after a tumultuous year in charge.
- CNN's parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, announced the move Wednesday morning.
CNN is once again searching for a new top executive just over a year after departing CEO Chris Licht took the job — and David Zaslav, CEO of CNN's parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, reportedly told CNN staffers he is taking responsibility for Licht's challenged tenure.
The news of Licht's departure was earlier reported by Puck's Dylan Byers, and confirmed by the company in a press release. Zaslav also sent an email and spoke to employees on a morning newsroom call explaining the decision and outlining an interim leadership team while the company finds a new CEO.
Licht's tenure was marked with high-profile departures from CNN, like Don Lemon and Brian Stelter. One of the defining moments of his time leading CNN was the town hall with former president Donald Trump that he championed as a move to win back center- and right-leaning viewers, but was in reality widely criticized.
Last week, The Atlantic published a lengthy profile about Licht and his time leading CNN, and several details like a Licht lieutenant telling staff to remove the words "sexual abuse" from a chyron ahead of the Trump town hall reportedly shocked CNN employees and people around the media industry.
Licht apologized to CNN staff in a Monday morning newsroom meeting about some of his comments from the Atlantic story, including a variety of criticisms of the network's journalism under his predecessor Jeff Zucker.
Licht reportedly believed he could fix the problems created by the profile and stay in the top job, according to Stelter. However, several reports in the days since the profile, including from CNN's own media reporter Oliver Darcy, appeared to indicate that Zaslav's confidence in Licht was wavering.
A Tuesday report from The Wall Street Journal said that several high-profile anchors for the network, including Jake Tapper and Anderson Cooper, were expressing concerns to other executives about whether Licht is able to lead the newsroom.
It's unclear what Zaslav means by taking responsibility for Licht's mistakes since Licht no longer has his job and Zaslav still has his, but his comments are part of a wider trend of tech and media executives apologizing and pledging accountability when they make tough decisions and announcements like layoffs, which some experts say can make the news easier to deal with for employees.
Read the full memo Zaslav sent to CNN staff that was reported by Tani here:
—Max Tani (@maxwelltani) June 7, 2023
Spokespeople for CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery when contacted for comment referred Insider to its Wednesday morning press release.
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