CNN CEO Chris Licht told his direct reports that he is no longer overseeing business operations for the network, according to Dylan Byers of Puck News.
Byers, who used to work for CNN, said in the Puck newsletter on Friday that confidence in Licht has “wavered considerably” and that David Leavy – chief corporate affairs officer at Warner Bros. Discovery – will now handle the business side:
In the last 48 hours, it has become clear, based on conversations with well-placed sources, that Zaslav’s once steadfast support has wavered considerably. On Wednesday, Licht informed his direct reports that he would be ceding control of all business operations to David Leavy, the chief corporate affairs officer at Warner Bros. Discovery and a longtime member of the Zaslav braintrust. The move, which Licht characterized as his own decision, was in fact an unequivocal vote of diminishing confidence by the parentco in Licht’s ability to manage a business that has endured substantial ratings declines, revenue losses, and reputational damage since he took over.
The revelation backs up reporting from Mediaite published on Thursday noting Leavy’s arrival appointment as COO.
“There’s no way they would put David Leavy down into CNN to work for Chris Licht,” one industry insider told Mediaite. “He’s too important to Zaslav to take what on paper sounds like a demotion. It sure sounds like he’s taking one for the team.”
The Puck reporting came hours after The Atlantic published a lengthy and not exactly flattering profile of Licht’s tenure at CNN, which has seen precipitous ratings declines since Licht replaced former chief Jeff Zucker.
In April 2022, CNN was acquired by Warner Bros. Discovery, whose CEO David Zaslav sought to move the network toward the political center. Since that time, opinion commentary from hosts is much rarer and Republican lawmakers and commentators have become staples of CNN’s programming. Famously, the network played host to Donald Trump’s first town hall of the 2024 campaign in May, which received major backlash.
“The official corporate line is that Leavy’s appointment will allow Licht to focus on programming and editorial strategy while Leavy manages the P&L, operational logistics, and marketing and P.R.—and that much is true,” Puck reported. “But while Leavy will officially report up to Licht, the new org chart belies the true nature of his position.”
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