Stephen Colbert Pays Tribute to Chris Licht: ‘I Didn’t Know Whether I’d Like Him, But 6 Years Later, I Love You’

By A.J. Katz 

Stephen Colbert paid tribute to his executive producer and showrunner at The Late Show Chris Licht—who has been named the next chairman and CEO of CNN following parent company WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery in the spring—Monday on his show with an eight-minute monologue.

“Now obviously Chris is under contract, so we’re going to have to do this like a baseball trade: If CNN is taking Chris, I’m going to take Wolf Blitzer‘s beard.”

After a few quips about Licht, Colbert got a bit serious:


On a personal note, Chris, six years ago, when I met Chris over drinks, he seemed right for the job. But this is true: I wasn’t sure whether I would like him. If we would become friends; because we’re all showfolk here, and Chris is not. But I could tell he was right for the job, even though he came after from some pretty prominent positions already. I mean, Scarborough Country. He arrived knowing what he didn’t know, which was comedy and show business. So, he approached the job with a level of humility that is rare in executives.

But here’s the thing: There are bosses and then there are leaders. Bosses tell you what to do. Leaders work as hard as you do to do what needs to be done. That’s what you did.

And that is why he earned the respect all of us here who live in the clown car. We showed him what we really wanted to do, which is the show that we do now and he immediately started printing the lines of communication, the lanes of responsibility and the respectful workplace that makes creative ambition at this speed possible. And I’m happy that CNN will benefit from all of his wisdom.

So, I didn’t know whether I’d like him, but six years later, I love you…