Chris Licht Is Gone. The CNN Programs He Approved Are Likely To Stay

Chris Licht has left the building that houses CNN’s New York headquarters, but the things he did while he was there are likely to last a little longer.

Executives at the Warner Bros. Discovery-backed news outlet intend to follow the programming strategy Licht approved during his 13 months at the operation, according to three people familiar with the matter.

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Yes, Kaitlan Collins will lead CNN’s 9 p.m. hour. Dana Bash is still scheduled to take over the noontime program “Inside Politics.” Poppy Harlow will remain at the helm of CNN’s new morning show, paired with someone new (Phil Mattingly and Sara Sidner have made frequent appearances in recent weeks). And “News Central,” the CNN daytime show that aims to lend the tension of breaking news to the usual proceedings, is backed by much of the staff, these people said.

CNN declined to make executives available for comment.

Staffers are trying to regroup after Licht’s chaotic tenure as CEO. Licht was ousted officially on Wednesday after overseeing a controversial era that featured moving the provocative anchor Don Lemon to mornings and a chaotic town hall with former President Trump that sparked a backlash. CNN’s ratings have tumbled amid some program changes and its primetime schedule has been less competitive with Fox News Channel’s or MSNBC’s.

Still, CNN employees will continue to follow the mission laid out for CNN by its corporate parent. That means sticking more to the facts of the day than getting passionate or excited about them, and aiming to serve as a place that appeals to both Democrats and Republicans. Under CEO David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Discovery has moved to pull back on some of the aggressive, even crusading, tone CNN struck during the Trump administration under its previous leader, Jeff Zucker. Zucker left last year after acknowledging a romantic relationship with CNN’s then-CMO, Allison Gollust.

Now in charge of CNN’s programming and newsgathering is a trio of senior executives: Amy Entelis, who oversees talent as well as original content; Virginia Moseley, recently named to oversee editorial operations; and Eric Sherling, recently appointed head of U.S. programming, will lead news efforts. David Leavy, a longtime Zaslav lieutenant who was named chief operating officer at CNN last week, will oversee business activities. The entire group must keep CNN moving forward as the 2024 presidential election cycle draws near, even as the outlet’s ratings have fallen and its staff has been buffeted by job cuts, programming changes and a seemingly endless cycle of senior executives coming and going.

New programs and concepts are likely to surface. CNN has already broadcast a series of town-hall events with Republican presidential candidates. While Licht is gone, however, some of the programming format still in use may spur staffers to keep thinking of him.

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