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Gayle King & Charles Barkley’s CNN Show ‘Last Chance’ For CEO Chris Licht As Network's Struggles Worsen: Sources

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May 2 2023, Published 5:30 p.m. ET

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Hiring high-priced Gayle King and basketball icon Charles Barkley as talking head teammates is a desperate Hail Mary play by CNN CEO Chris Licht, RadarOnline.com has learned.

According to network insiders, “This is a last-ditch effort to save the network — and his job.” As ratings plummet to a record-breaking low amid sex scandals that forced out primetime host Chris Cuomo and network president Jeff Zucker, Licht is on the hot seat.

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“This new team better attract eyeballs or Chris is likely history, especially with recently fired Don Lemon hunting for his head,” said the source.

Barkley, 60, a huge star on sister network TNT’s NBA Tip-Off, recently signed a $100 million deal. Meanwhile, Gayle has been mired in third place with her show, CBS Mornings. Her $12 million contract to do a single CNN show a week has staffers in revolt after the network axed 400 jobs in December and pulled the plug on streaming service CNN+ just one month after launch.

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“Everyone has been told there’s no money, yet they’re managing to scrape up cash to pay Gayle King,” said a source. “It’s incredibly tone-deaf, as well as being rude to the hard-working people who’ve been toiling here for years!”

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“Explain how Gayle King is going to help?” scoffed one angry CNN staffer. “Really! They couldn’t have hired someone from the number two rated show, or God forbid, number one?”

“Chris’ batting average is pretty bad,” said a source. “This is a big gamble — and his last chance.”

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As we previously reported, CNN had only 535,000 primetime viewers for the first quarter this year — a drastic 35 percent decline from a year ago — marking its lowest quarterly ratings average since 2015.

Licht has failed to score a hit following his effort to make Jake Tapper a primetime star last year. He proceeded to move Don Lemon from primetime to CNN This Morning — which failed epically.

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