The Atlantic’s profile of CNN chairman and CEO Chris Licht published on Friday, and has been the talk of the media business over the past few days.
The 15,000-word opus painted a not-so-positive picture of the executive, whose first year has been marked by turbulence.
Licht reportedly addressed the profile and subsequent blowback Monday morning during the daily editorial call with CNN staff.
“I know these past few days have been very hard for this group. I fully recognize that this news cycle and my role in it overshadowed the incredible week of reporting that we just had, and distracted from the work of every single journalist in this org. And for that, I am sorry.
As I read that article, I found myself thinking, CNN is not about me. I should not be in the news unless it’s taking arrows for you. Your work is what should be written about.
To those whose trust I’ve lost, I will fight like hell to win it back, because you deserve a leader who will be in the trenches, fighting to ensure CNN remains the world’s most trusted name in news.”
Licht also informed CNN staffers that he would be moving to a new office adjacent to the newsroom. He had previously been located in an area a few floors above.
MSNBC’s Morning Joe reacted to Licht’s remarks during the fourth hour of its Monday broadcast. Licht helped launch the MSNBC morning show with Joe Scarborough 16 years ago.
“I think he’s gotten a long of unfair press,” said longtime Morning Joe contributor and former MSNBC host Donny Deutsch. “I think CNN is a long, long way from their reporting demise and I think you’re going to see continued good things to come. He’s a tough guy. He can take the punches and he can punch with the best of them.”
Mika Brzezinski added her two cents, “There’s a lot of things that have happened in the past since he took over. There are some that we agree with and some that we don’t agree with. But there’s a lot of cross-currents here that have yet to play out, if you follow the industry. I think that was a good statement, very self-aware and important.”
Then Scarborough, who helped create Morning Joe with Licht, took his turn: “I must say the notion that CNN was somehow Shangri-La and this powerhouse until Chris Licht walked through the door kind of denies everything that happened over the past decade … a ratings juggernaut? I mean, listen, I love [former CNN boss and Licht’s predecessor] Jeff Zucker. Jeff’s a friend of ours too, Donny. Jeff saved my job at NBC more than one or two times. I’m not knocking Jeff, but this idea that it was a ratings juggernaut when it just wasn’t before Chris walked through the door … that’s not Jeff’s fault, that’s just bad reporting.”
The “Morning Joe” crew strongly defended Chris Licht (the founding producer of that show) this AM – @JoeNBC read aloud my Twitter thread about Licht apologizing to the CNN staff, then said “that’s exactly what you want from somebody that made a mistake.” Here’s the clip pic.twitter.com/v5NLwrvrK6
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 5, 2023