New CNN CEO Chris Licht is a “dead man talking” and may not be long for the job that he has held since he replaced Jeff Zucker last year with the network’s top talent reportedly having “lost confidence” in him amid dismal ratings and remarks made in a recently published profile.
According to a report by the leftist Daily Beast’s Confider newsletter, Licht is a goner based on “the damning judgment from dozens of CNN on-air talent, producers, and journalists,” with the big three, anchors Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, and Erin Burnett being names mentioned who have reportedly soured on their boss who faced an internal mutiny in the aftermath of the network’s town hall with former President Donald J. Trump last month.
Licht has seen his brief tenure engulfed by the fallout over the New Hampshire town hall in which the combative Trump defended himself against media smears and demolished Burnett in front of a crowd that repeatedly cheered him, decimating the narrative that he is widely despised, as well as the lengthy profile in The Atlantic that had him apologizing to staffers on the network’s Monday morning call.
“I know these past few days have been very hard for this group,” Licht reportedly told staff. “I fully recognize that this news cycle and my role in it overshadowed the incredible week of reporting that we just had and distracted from the work of every single journalist in this organization. And for that, I am sorry.”
Few were impressed, according to former CNN media poobah Brian Stelter.
CNN’s @oliverdarcy says Chris Licht’s apology “did little to move the needle.”
“Too little, too late,” more than one employee said.⁰ ⁰”In the eyes of so many at CNN, there isn’t anything Licht can do at this point to win over their support.” https://t.co/fC08ZlGIho
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 6, 2023
According to the Daily Beast, feelings were hurt by Licht’s remarks on the network’s hysterical coverage of COVID with the self-proclaimed “most trusted name in news” being among the top purveyors of official disinformation on the virus that drove the draconian response of mandates and lockdowns.
“Ultimately it was Licht’s comments about CNN’s COVID coverage—that it was feverish, lacked context, and often broke from reality—that most enraged network staffers,” Confider reported.
Compounding Licht’s troubles are reports that Zucker is “waging a proxy war” against his successor and still holds considerable sway with many CNN employees.
Zucker “has made no secret of his unhappiness with the terms of his exit from CNN or his low regard for the performance of its current leader, Chris Licht. In a sense, he is now serving as a kind of grievance switchboard for current and former employees of the news network, many people who have spoken with him said,” according to The New York Times.
“It is wholly unsurprising that Jeff Zucker, the architect of CNN’s unprecedented success, would have deep misgivings about the direction the network has taken since he left,” Risa Heller, a spokesperson for Zucker told the Times, adding, “that he gets asked a lot, publicly and privately, and regularly from former colleagues, about what he thinks of CNN now.”
“Perhaps the parent company can tolerate sh*tty management at CNN. But how long will they stomach lousy ratings and shrinking revenue?” one anonymous staffer told Confider.
The knives are definitely out for Licht.
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