On Monday, the New York Times reported that CNN’s new CEO Chris Licht’s future at the network is uncertain after The Atlantic published a profile that cast doubts on his leadership.
In his first year heading up the network, CNN’s ratings have plummetted while its profits have dried up. Several of its top on-air personalities have also been removed.
According to the New York Times, before Licht took over, CNN was generating over $1 billion in profits each year for several years. But in the first year with Licht as CEO, the network’s profits plummeted to only $750 million.
CNN employees have also expressed frustration with the new head of strategy and business operations Chris Marlin, a Licht hire. Employees working with Marlin have said that he lacks the experience to manage a cable news network.
But the final nail in Licht’s coffin may have come last Friday when The Atlantic published a profile of Licht that caused turmoil at the cable network.
In the profile at The Atlantic, writer Tim Alberta describes Licht as disconnected from CNN employees, aloof and barely interacting with them. Alberta writes that Licht provided a clearer vision of his plans for CNN to his personal trainer than he did to anyone working at the network.
According to the New York Times, some CNN staffers are privately speculating that Licht isn’t likely to last as CEO.
Compounding the speculation was the decision last week to appoint David Leavy to a leadership role at CNN. Leavy is a close associate of CNN’s parent company Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav. His appointment prompted speculation that Zaslav believes that the cable news network is in urgent need of management assistance.
In an article published in New York magazine on Tuesday, former CNN host Brian Stelter described the “anti-Licht sentiment” among CNN staff.
Stelter quoted several unnamed CNN employees and anchors who suggested that Licht’s days at the network are numbered.
During an editorial call on Monday, Licht addressed the speculation, vowing to “fight like hell” to win back the trust of CNN personnel, the New York Times reported.