CNN Fires CEO For Being Too ‘Soft on Trump’

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CNN has fired CEO Chris Licht, just one year after he joined the network and promised to resuscitate its fortunes by turning it into a serious news outlet again.

David Zaslav, the CEO of the network’s parent company Warner Brothers Discovery, told employees on Wednesday that Licht had been too “soft on Trump,” with the former CEO’s problems understood to have begun in the aftermath of the Trump town hall hosted by the network last month.

In an interim arrangement, Licht will be succeeded by a group of senior CNN executives led by Amy Entelis, who once served as the deputy to his polarizing predecessor, Jeff Zucker. Prior to his departure last year, Zucker oversaw CNN’s evolution from a relatively unbiased news network to a fiercely anti-Trump platform driven by opinions—an evolution that Licht was supposedly tasked with reversing.

CNN insiders link Licht’s downfall to the Trump town hall held last month. The event received widespread criticism on the left for allegedly relinquishing control to the former president and his devoted supporters.

While Licht had anticipated an audience with strong pro-Trump sentiments, he insisted that instead of marginalizing and vilifying the former US president, as the network had done during his time in the Oval Office, the town hall moderator should focus on “confronting him with facts.”

However, from CNN’s perspective, this approach backfired spectacularly, with Trump completely dominating the CNN host and confronting her with facts of his own.

Licht had been promoted to the top role with a mandate to walk CNN back from the anti-Trump precipice it had reached under his predecessor, Jeff Zucker, and – according to the Atlantic – viewed his purpose as nothing less than to “save journalism.” 

The CEO had told a journalist profiling him for the magazine that his “mission” for CNN was “being trusted.” “Everyone has an agenda, trying to shape events or shape thought. There has to be a source of absolute truth,” he said, suggesting he wanted to elevate the network mocked by Trump, his supporters, and even many of his haters as “fake news” to be that source. 

The profile was not flattering to the embattled CNN boss, with some claiming he came across as paranoid and out of touch if genuinely concerned with the network’s inability to relate to middle America and determined to rebuild its reputation, promising to “cover [Trump] like any other candidate” in 2024.

In practice, the network has continued to hemorrhage viewers while losing some of its most recognizable if controversial names, including Brian Stelter and Don Lemon, and – if ratings are any judge – has failed to convince centrist audiences that it has left its anti-conservative polemics behind.

Licht apologized to CNN staffers on Monday for the Atlantic profile, describing the experience as “tremendously humbling.”

Baxter Dmitry
About Baxter Dmitry 6012 Articles
Baxter Dmitry is a writer at The People's Voice. He covers politics, business and entertainment. Speaking truth to power since he learned to talk, Baxter has travelled in over 80 countries and won arguments in every single one. Live without fear.