OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
CNN’s new president, Chris Licht, likely did not calm the nerves of those concerned about major changes such as staff reductions and firings during an employee phone call on Friday.
According to sources who were on the call, Licht warned CNN staffers that they “might not” like decisions that are coming down the pipe, another indication that the flagging legacy cable news outlet is about to experience significant upheaval.
“I want to acknowledge that this is a time of significant change, and I know that many of you are unsettled,” Licht said, according to several who attended Friday’s editorial call, The Hollywood Reporter noted. “There will be more changes, and you might not understand it or like it.”
Licht, who replaced Jeff Zucker at the helm of CNN earlier this year, began evaluating the extremely partisan on-air talent shortly after he took over. And the phone call on Friday comes on the heels of news that one of the network’s hosts, Brian Stelter — whose weekly “Reliable Sources” program has seen tanking ratings for more than a year — was leaving after his show was reportedly canceled.
“No one is safe or secure right now,” one source on the phone call told the outlet Deadline.
“I think people are legitimately sad that Brian is leaving,” one staffer at CNN toldthe Hollywood Reporter, anonymously. “He was a big presence at the network — but understand that Chris has to put his stamp on the network.”
The Daily Wire added:
Deadline reported that billionaire investor John Malone — who is one of the largest investors in CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery — said earlier in the year during an interview that he wanted CNN to “evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists.”
Stelter whined in his newsletter at the time that Malone wanting unbiased reporting at the network “stoked fears that Discovery might stifle CNN journalists and steer away from calling out indecency and injustice.”
One CNN insider told Deadline that the decision to dismiss Stelter and cancel his program was “coming from above.”
“If this isn’t coming from John Malone directly, it sure represents his thinking with lieutenants doing his bidding,” the insider noted further.
Licht told CNN employees and talent earlier this summer that he was aware the network had experienced massive changes in a short period of time, what with Zucker being terminated along with host Chris Cuomo amid scandal.
“You heard me say in my first town hall that I am going to make decisions slower than some would like,” Licht said then. “I know this organization has been through tremendous change over the last four months, which is why I am approaching this process slowly and thoughtfully as we look at all parts of the operation. We will realign where it makes sense to best serve our people and the business.”
Last week, another noted CNN contributor and personality is leaving the scandal-rocked network.
Longtime legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who recently survived a masturbation episode that led to his firing from New York Magazine, has announced he is leaving the legacy news network.
Toobin abruptly made his announcement on Friday as it looked as though CNN was not likely to renew his contract, Deadline reported.
“Friends, I’ve decided that, after 20 years, I’m leaving @cnn after my vacation,” Toobin tweeted. “Was great to spend my last day on air with pals Wolf [Blitzer], Anderson [Cooper] and Don [Lemon]. Love all my former colleagues.”
In a letter to colleagues, according to Variety, Toobin said: “I wanted to let you know that after twenty years I’ve decided to leave CNN after my vacation.
Friends, I’ve decided that, after 20 years, I’m leaving @cnn after my vacation. Was great to spend my last day on air with pals Wolf, Anderson and Don. Love all my former colleagues. Watch for my next book, about the Oklahoma City bombing, coming in 2023 from @simonandschuster
— Jeffrey Toobin (@JeffreyToobin) August 12, 2022
“It was great to spend my last day on air, like so many before, with my pals at [The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer], [Anderson Cooper 360] and Don Lemon Tonight. It’s been a privilege (and fun) being your colleague. The work of CNN is enormously important, and I know you’ll continue doing it with the same passion and intelligence as always,” he added.
“We are grateful for Jeffrey’s contributions to the network over the years and wish him all the best in his future endeavors,” CNN noted in a statement, via Variety.