CNN has endured nearly two years of turmoil as the cable news network has struggled to overcome national scandals, sudden departures, declining ratings and declining profits.
The uproar culminated this week with the abrupt exit of CNN’s top boss, Chris Licht, whose rocky 13-month run as CNN’s leader ended after a string of race controversies. He was appointed chief executive and chairman of CNN in February 2022, succeeding Jeff Zucker, who had resigned weeks earlier.
Mr. Licht took the top job at a critical moment for the network: ratings had plummeted after the 2020 presidential election, and CNN’s parent company, WarnerMedia, was preparing to merge with Discovery, creating a media giant. . Amidst the turmoil, Mr. Licht was never able to find his footing at the network.
Here’s a timeline of the 18 months of turmoil at CNN that led to his ouster.
Chris Cuomo out.
CNN fired a star anchor, Chris Cuomo, on December 4, 2021 over his involvement in the political affairs of his brother, former New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. The ouster was a surprising fall for the network’s top-rated host, who was on top of a broadcast journalism career he had built outside his famous political family.
After evidence revealed that Mr. Cuomo had played a more intimate role in his brother’s political affairs than the network had previously known, the anchor was initially suspended.
But days before his dismissal, a prominent employment attorney notified CNN of a client with an allegation of sexual misconduct against Chris Cuomo. It was not entirely clear what role the allegation played in CNN’s decision to fire him.
Mr. Cuomo said in a statement at the time, “This is not how I want to end my time at CNN, but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother.”
Jeff Zucker resigns.
On February 2, 2022, Mr. Zucker stepped down as chairman of CNN, citing his failure to disclose a consensual relationship with an associate. They wrote in a memo that their relationship had come to light during an internal investigation into Mr. Cuomo’s conduct.
Tension ran high in the newsroom as top talent questioned Mr. Zucker’s sudden exit. WarnerMedia’s then-chief executive Jason Kilar flew to the network’s Washington bureau for an emergency meeting, but declined to elaborate on what led to Mr. Zucker’s departure, leaving unresolved questions ahead of a corporate megamerger. Gave.
Mr. Licht arrives in a bumpy way.
In May, after Discovery finalized its acquisition of WarnerMedia, Mr. Lich was inducted on the board. He reported directly to David Zaslav, chief executive of the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery.
Mr. Licht came to CNN as executive producer of Stephen Colbert’s late-night show, where he improved the show’s ratings by making the tone more political.
At CNN, he encouraged a more nuanced approach to news coverage as part of an effort to reach audiences on both the right and the left. But some in the network were skeptical about the changes. In April, Warner Bros. Discovery shut down the streaming platform CNN+ just weeks after its $300 million debut. That same day, Mr. Licht announced the possibility of hundreds of layoffs in his first formal address to employees as incoming leader.
Mr. Licht later said he wanted to re-tool the programming, but CNN’s ratings and profits continued to decline, forcing executives to look for ways to cut costs. Among the programs removed was “Reliable Sources”, a Sunday show hosted by CNN’s top media reporter Brian Stelter, who left the network after the show’s cancellation.
Don Lemon is ejected.
On April 24, CNN ended its longtime relationship with star anchor Don Lemon, who was the network’s prime-time anchor before ending a short but controversial stint as co-host of “CNN This Morning”. included in the lineup. Substantially overhauled only months ago.
Mr Lemon’s departure comes after he made sexist comments about politician Nikki Haley, 51, during a chat in February. to the obvious dismay of his co-anchors, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlyn Collins.
The incident caused an uproar inside the cable news channel and prompted a rare rebuke from Mr. Licht. “Her comments were disturbing, unacceptable and inappropriate to her co-hosts, and ultimately a huge distraction to the great work of this organization,” Mr. Licht told staff at the time.
Mr. Lemon did not take the firing lightly and took to Twitter to vent his anger. He wrote, ‘I am shocked.
Trump town halls are criticized.
On May 10, CNN reported former President Donald J. Hosted a town hall in New Hampshire with Trump, who used the raucous meeting to repeat the lies and name-calling that characterized his presidency. Town Hall was divisive even before it aired, and was criticized within and outside the network for spreading false information.
Some on-air talent looked dazed after the town hall closed, and one of the network’s top hosts, Christiane Amanpour, took issue with the stage, saying she and Mr. “respectfully disagree” about. Town Hall in that format.
On a network editorial call, Mr. Licht defended his decision to air the live town hall. “I believe quite frankly that America was served very well by what we did last night,” according to a recording of the call obtained by The New York Times.