The departure of CNN CEO Chris Licht represents the end of a brief era at the network and another sign that it could be facing serious headwinds in the months and years to come. Furthermore, the exit is another sign that the network that went toe-to-toe with former President Donald Trump appears to have lost the engagement decisively.
CNN’s ratings have fallen significantly during Licht’s tenure. However, one of the major catalysts behind his departure appears to be linked to a recent town hall program with the former president. During the program, Trump challenged the moderator, CNN personality Kaitlan Collins.
The network faced sharp internal criticism from its own employees and even faced stinging criticism posted on its own website.
The ratings drop and fallout from the Trump event appear to have caused Licht to face the ax. According to the company, David Zazlav will be taking the help temporarily. Zazlav is the chair of Warner Bros. Discover and will be operating an interim team as the network attempts to find its footing.
The town hall featuring the former president received considerable criticism from the left and right. Some on the left believed that Trump was given too much leeway and not enough pushback from the network while some on the right saw bias within the forum’s questions.
Thank you Chris Licht for giving us this absolute clip of Trump BTFO’ing your “Primetime” talent.
This is your legacy.pic.twitter.com/lZEfQIh7gV
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) June 7, 2023
CNN emerged as one of the largest critics of the former president during his time in office. Many conservatives argued that the new network took a significant turn to the left.
Licht desired a change in the company’s trajectory. He believed that the network was showing too much left-wing bias and that the means of regaining its credibility came with a more centrist approach.
While the network attempted to tone down some of its positions, conservatives still viewed many of its contributors and anchors as driving a left-of-center narrative.
With Licht gone, CNN faces one of its steepest ratings and financial challenges to date. While the channel originally created precedent as the first 24-hour news channel, its major competitors such as Fox News and MSNBC have made considerable progress blunting its ratings. Furthermore, a number of new channels, such as Newsmax, have gained considerable market share.