According to Page Six, there are rumors circulating at CNN that Chris Licht, who took over as chairman less than a year ago, will be leaving before Labor Day.
However, some insiders believe he will stick around because it would be embarrassing for CNN’s corporate boss, David Zaslav, who took a risk in appointing Licht to lead the network, to make such a quick about-face.
Licht has had success in the past, helming shows such as “The Late Show,” “Morning Joe,” and “CBS This Morning.”
Still, he has no prior experience running an entire network. He replaced Jeff Zucker, who left after a sex scandal.
Since taking over, Licht has made changes to the network, including letting go of big names like Brian Stelter and Jeffrey Toobin, overseeing significant layoffs, moving Don Lemon from his primetime show to co-hosting the morning program, and shutting down the streamer CNN+ one month after its launch.
Despite this, CNN’s ratings have dropped under his watch, though they were already heading downwards under Zucker.
Licht’s handling of “CNN This Morning” has caused controversy, with on-set confrontations between anchors and a scandal after Lemon suggested presidential hopeful Nikki Haley was “past her prime.” Licht publicly rebuked Lemon for the comment.
There have also been reports of Licht’s lack of familiarity with the network and its staff, with one insider saying he rarely stops to talk to “regular folk” and appears scared of them.
Some insiders believe he hates the job and cannot do it, and his days at CNN are numbered.
Furthermore, there is frustration that Licht seems to draw inspiration from CBS, a network that has struggled to compete with its rivals.
Licht has picked up executives and on-air talent from CBS and is in talks to bring Gayle King into prime time, despite her not delivering the numbers to match her high price tag.
CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN’s parent company, deny the rumors.
A CNN spokesperson dismissed the story as “cheap shots from competitors and anonymous naysayers,” while a spokesperson for Warner Bros.
Discovery said that Zaslav fully supports Licht and that he is committed to making CNN successful.