CNN has undergone quite extensive changes over the past year, and another major development occurred this week.
On Wednesday, CNN’s CEO Chris Licht resigned from his position atop the news organization according to its parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.
Licht had only spent one year in his role leading the Cable News Network, a time that NPR labeled as a “year of crisis.” One of his biggest downfalls, according to NPR, was the fact that he tried to break through the mob mentality that was created in large part by the media while former President Donald Trump was in the White House.
The former CEO sent a memo to staff on his first day on the job in which he described what the mission of the network would be under his control. He would work to make the network “a vital, relevant and respected part of our culture.” He also lamented that “too many people [had] lost trust in the news media.”
He further wrote that regaining that trust would require “fearlessly speaking truth to power, challenging the status quo, questioning ‘group-think’ and educating viewers and readers with straightforward facts and insightful commentary, while always being respectful of differing opinions.”
If you read between the lines of those comments, it was Licht’s desire to once again turn CNN into an independent news outlet, rather than the liberal-leaning cable TV news station that it had become in recent years.
That stance certainly ruffled the feathers of many employees at CNN, some of which were in high-ranking positions.
During his short tenure, there were plenty of media reports that surfaced that detailed how employees were unhappy with Licht’s vision and the fact that the network was moving to the right. That led to morale among staffers to be very low.
Some of the network’s most well-known hosts – such as John Harwood and Brian Stelter – both openly complained about the “strategy shift” Licht was implementing. Not surprisingly, both of those hosts were eventually axed.
One of the last straws for Licht was the town hall that the network hosted with Trump in front of a very pro-Trump audience in New Hampshire. CNN staffers commented to Politico that the town hall “was a complete disaster [that] made it seem like CNN was endorsing that behavior.”
Journalist Simon Ateba put it pretty succinctly in a long Twitter post on Wednesday this week when he wrote, in part:
“CNN is dominated by white liberals who tell you white conservatives are the racist ones – the demons on one side and the angels on the other. And so, after Chris Licht requested a town hall with @realDonaldTrump, the liberals expected him to be destroyed.
“The town hall was not meant to be fair or to seek the answers the American people really care about ahead of 2024. It was for ratings. … In the end, Trump did well, surprising them. He dominated the event. …
“The outrage was immediate on the left. Why did he (Licht) allow Trump to ‘spread his many lies?’”