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Head in the Sand: CNN's Staffers Bemoan How Corporate Overlords are 'Trying to Fix a Newsroom That Isn't Broken'

cnn staffers upset corporate heads trying fix newsroom pp
Source: CraSH/imageSPACE / MEGA; ZUMAPRESS.com / MEGA

Jun. 7 2023, Published 1:30 p.m. ET

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Chris Licht's departure from CNN came on the heels of a brief and dramatic tenure, putting the network's fate in a new direction as newly appointed chief operating officer, David Leavy, steps in until a permanent leader is chosen.

RadarOnline.com has learned that Leavy will take the reins with CNN veterans Amy Entelis, Virginia Moseley, and Eric Sherling, according to an update from David Zaslav, the chief executive of the network's parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery.

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cnn staffers upset corporate heads trying fix newsroom
Source: Richard B. Levine/Newscom/The Mega Agency

A recent profile written by former CNN anchor Brian Stelter, who was "graciously" fired under the 13-month Licht regime, revealed the fallout leading up to his shock exit, noting that just 24 hours before The Atlantic published "Inside the Meltdown at CNN," the ailing cable news network announced Leavy as its new COO.

"The press release listed June 20 as Leavy's start date. But the truth is Leavy started immediately — he had no other choice," wrote Stelter in New York Magazine's Intelligencer.

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cnn staffers upset corporate heads trying fix newsroom
Source: MEGA

Chris Licht

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CNN is at a fork in the road, and "Zaslav will determine its future." Stelter noted he's been vocal about wanting the network to "evolve."

Insiders are torn about Zaslav's stance. Some argue "this reflects his passion for the brand; others say it amounts to inappropriate interference" after former CEO Licht told deputies that it was always his priority to defend CNN's "editorial independence."

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cnn staffers upset corporate heads trying fix newsroom
Source: ZUMAPRESS.com / MEGA
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Chris Licht
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On Monday, Licht addressed the CNN staff after The Atlantic piece was published and said he would "fight like hell" to earn back their trust.

He had weathered a series of missteps including programming issues and a disastrous Trump town hall that led to a "fury of criticism" within the company and amongst viewers.

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Many CNN staffers, however, still feel the news operation "isn't broken and thus doesn't need Zaslav or Licht to fix it," according to Stelter.

"I was really rooting for him," one insider said of Licht. "I'm so struck by how consumed he is by the coverage he gets and the respect his predecessor had," a second source said of the besieged ex-CEO and former network president Jeff Zucker.

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cnn staffers upset corporate heads trying fix newsroom
Source: MEGA

Brian Stelter

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RadarOnline.com previously blew the lid off Zucker's secret affair with the network's then-Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer prior to Licht's takeover.

Looking ahead, Stelter said that no further changes seem to be imminent and insiders claim that he is "keeping his options open."

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