CNN has had a turbulent first year Chris Licht, who became the network’s chief executive officer last spring. And Licht’s 15,000-word profile published in The Atlantic on Friday cast new doubts about his leadership and future at the company.
The turmoil has led some staffers to privately speculate in recent days whether Licht will or should stay on as chief executive. It also fueled speculation last week’s decision to appoint David Levy, a trusted associate of CNN’s parent company David Zasraf, to the network’s top leadership role. thinks CNN urgently needs management support.
In an editorial call on Monday, Licht addressed the turmoil and said he would “fight desperately” to regain the trust of CNN staff.
“We know the last few days have been very tough for this group,” he said. “And it’s enough that this line of news and my role in it overshadowed the incredible week of coverage we’ve just had, distracting us from our work. I know.” All journalists in this organization. And for that, sorry. “
CNN declined to comment beyond Licht’s remarks on the call.
Here are just a few of the many problems that have plagued networks over the past year.
programming mistakes and evaluation problems
A program mistake or two might be missed if a series of ratings wins elsewhere. But Licht’s 13 months were short of such victories.
CNN’s ratings have plummeted since Licht took office. Over the past month, conservative news network Newsmax has surpassed CNN in viewership several times, in a once unthinkable.
Licht took his time trying to find a 9 p.m. caster (the vacant seat he inherited), causing the network’s viewership to plummet during the wait. Last fall, putting Jake Tupper in the 9 p.m. slot as a temporary assignment drew lukewarm interest from viewers. And in February, Licht began experimenting with filling that hour with town halls, single-topic episodes, and high-profile interviews.
The experiment ended in failure, with some of CNN’s viewership ratings dropping to record lows. over 20 years. By May, Licht had decided to hire Kaitlan Collins as a prime-time guest anchor at 9 p.m. because she was showing consistent ratings. He has not announced a permanent replacement for the 10 p.m. slot.
Several recent programming changes have given network executives hope, including a revised daytime line-up and a new Sunday News magazine by anchor Anderson Cooper. Comprehensive coverage of major breaking news events by this network is stable.
Don Lemon and The Morning Show Confusion
One of Licht’s biggest blunders was his first big programming move as CEO. remake the network’s morning show.
It was only natural that Licht’s first characteristic overhaul would take place in the morning. After all, he was a morning show impresario, serving successful tenures on ‘Morning His Joe’ and ‘CBS This His Morning’.
“The show will set the tone for the whole day, and it will set the tone for the press,” Licht said in September, two months before the show, renamed “CNN This Morning,” began.
He has collected 3 anchors. Don Lemon is the network’s outspoken 10pm anchor. Poppy Harlow is a stable veteran with the network he has been with for 14 years. And Ms. Collins was a 30-year-old up-and-coming White House reporter at the time.
However, the show’s ratings were moribund from the start. And tensions on the set skyrocketed in February. Lemon said during the broadcast Politician Nikki Haley, 51, said she wasn’t in her “golden age.”
Mr. Richt by April dismissed Mr. Lemon. A few weeks later he reassigned Mr. Collins, to the new prime time slot. Just a few months after its first airing, the morning show will need to be revamped again.
Prior to Licht’s arrival, CNN had generated more than $1 billion in profits each over the past few years. But last year, CNN generated about $750 million in profits. down from The year before, it was about $1.25 billion. (The lower figure includes a one-time loss of about $200 million from the CNN+ streaming service, Warner Bros. said in his Discovery.)
Some CNN employees are frustrated with Chris Merlin, the network’s head of strategy and business operations, who was hired by Licht. Licht’s longtime friend Merlin’s employees who have worked with him say he has little experience managing a major cable news network (he previously worked for Florida homebuilder Renner). , complained that he was baffled by some of his ideas. He supported the expansion of CNN’s digital business to international regions such as China.
donald trump city hall
No editorial decision by Licht has been criticized more than his dealings at City Hall with former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. Licht’s boss, Mr. Zaslav, said he believes CNN’s coverage had become too biased toward “advocacy” journalism under his predecessor, Jeff Zucker. Licht has sought to include on-air perspectives from commentators and newsmakers across the political spectrum, including conservatives.
The big test of that strategy occurred on May 10 at City Hall. Trump exposed a slew of lies to the cheering and admiring crowd, including calling City Hall host Collins a “mean woman.” “
The broadcast was widely criticized both inside and outside the network. After City Hall ended, some of the on-air talent looked dazed, with Christiane Amanpour, one of the station’s top presenters, questioning Trump’s approval to appear with her and Licht. ‘respectfully disagrees’ on the forum. City Hall in its form.
Licht defended the decision to host the event at City Hall, saying on air that “America has been very well received.” CNN anchor Cooper said, claimed It broadcast that the network’s forum with Trump was ready to give voters an informed decision.
“Since last night, no one can say, ‘I didn’t know what was there,'” Cooper said.
Amid the difficulties, Licht faces a crisis of trust among staff, many of whom believe he is out of touch with the network’s journalists.
After joining CNN last year, Licht set up an office on the 22nd floor above the newsroom, which some employees interpreted as aloofness.
Some employees were particularly stung by Licht’s poison Comments on the Atlantic He criticized the network’s coverage of the new coronavirus infection, which many employees heard for the first time.
Over the past few months, many of our staff have Mr. Licht’s predecessor called Mr. Zucker, to express frustration about the network’s leadership since his departure. A spokesperson for Zucker told the New York Times, “It is absolutely surprising that Jeff Zucker, the man behind CNN’s unprecedented success, had deep reservations about the network’s direction since his departure. not,” he said.
In a phone call with staff on Monday, Licht said he would be moving his office to a lower floor, recalling his roots as a TV producer to “make the best shows possible,” and closed with optimism. “
“And that’s what I’m going to do with you guys,” said Licht.