News, Culture & Society

CNN’s new boss Chris Licht is logging off Twitter for good when he steps into the role next month

Incoming CNN boss Chris Licht has announced he’s quitting Twitter once he assumes the role of CEO of the news network next month, following the station’s incorporation into Discovery last week. 

‘May 2 will be my first official day in the office at CNN & my last day on Twitter,’ longtime Late Show head Licht said in a post to the social media platform Monday.

Concerning why he is leaving the platform, Licht, 50, said: ‘Twitter can be a great journalistic tool, but it can also skew what’s really important in the world. 

‘I’m logging off & looking forward to working with the incredible team at CNN.’

The declaration from Licht, who served as the lead executive of programming at CBS and the showrunner for Stephen Colbert’s primetime show on the network for the past six years, comes just over a week after the highly publicized, $43 billion merger merger between CNN parent WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc., finalized on April 8.

Incoming CNN boss Chris Licht, pictured here at the Vanity Fair Oscar afterparty in March, has announced he’s quitting Twitter once he assumes the role of CEO of the news network next month, following the station’s incorporation into Discovery last week

CNN's new boss Chris Licht is logging off Twitter for good when he steps into the role next month

‘May 2 will be my first official day in the office at CNN & my last day on Twitter,’ longtime Late Show head Licht said in a post to the social media platform Monday. The decision from the TV titan coincides with reports

Licht was tapped by Discovery CEO – and now head of new megacompany company Warner Bros Discovery, which now owns Warner properties HBO, Warner Bros, and CNN – David Zaslav for the position in February.

Licht – who has promised a more news-centered approach to the notoriously left-leaning network with him at the helm – fills a void left by longtime CEO Jeff Zucker, who was forced to resign from the company after it was revealed he was romantically involved with also-ousted CNN marketing head Allison Gollust.

If he makes good on his promise, Licht – the brain behind MCNBC morning stalwart Morning Joe – would leave behind an account boasting 26,900 followers, and more than 2,700 tweets.

The decision from the TV titan coincides with reports that he plans to push hosts like Don Lemon and Jim Acosta away from opinionated reporting that became especially prevalent during Donald Trump’s election campaign and presidency. 

Licht instead seeks to return to the station’s roots as a hard-hitting news source, insiders close to the network said last month, following the exec’s publicized appointing by CEO Zaslav.

The declaration from Licht, who served as the lead executive of programming at CBS and the showrunner for Stephen Colbert's primetime show on the network for the past six years, comes just over a week after the highly publicized, $43 billion merger merger between CNN parent WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc., finalized on April 8

The declaration from Licht, who served as the lead executive of programming at CBS and the showrunner for Stephen Colbert’s primetime show on the network for the past six years, comes just over a week after the highly publicized, $43 billion merger merger between CNN parent WarnerMedia and Discovery Inc., finalized on April 8 

Under Licht, the sources said, viewers can expect to see fewer partisan panels with outspoken anchors such as former Trump aide Alyssa Farah.         

In his post Monday, which has already amassed nearly 3,000 likes as of Monday afternoon, Licht did not mention any planned social media guidelines for CNN staffers ahead of his takeover, nor did he provide any additional details surrounding his decision to sever ties with the platform.

After being announced as Zucker’s successor following the honcho’s ouster after an affair with a colleague in late February, Licht sent a memo to his future staff that teased changes the exec plans to implement once in the big seat. 

‘I look forward to getting to know all of you and hearing your candid thoughts and feedback,’ Licht wrote.

‘Our viewers demand the truth from us, and I want to learn the truth from you. Together, we will double-down on what’s working well and quickly eliminate what’s not.’ 

In the bulletin, Licht said his one directive as incoming president is to ensure that it ‘remains the global leader in news’ as the network’s parent company merges with Discovery – emphasizing the word news in capital letters. 

Last month, Zucker, Licht’s predecessor, resigned in February under pressure from new boss Zaslav for violating corporate policy by not disclosing the nature of his consensual romance with second-in-command Allison Gollust, his friend and colleague of over 20 years.

As he stepped down from his position, Zucker admitted he was ‘wrong’ not to have told the company about the relationship. 

Gollust subsequently left the network following a third-party investigation into ‘issues associated with Chris Cuomo and former Governor Andrew Cuomo,’ then-WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar said in a statement at the time.

Zucker and Allison Gollust had worked together for 20 years. The pair claim their relationship turned romantic during the pandemic but others say it far predates COVID, and was common knowledge for as many as eight years.  

Licht (left) has been the showrunner and executive producer of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert since 2016. He was above with Stephen Colbert at the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California

Licht (left) has been the showrunner and executive producer of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert since 2016. He was above with Stephen Colbert at the 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California

According to sources cited by Rolling Stone on Thursday, the pair breached journalism ethics to help Cuomo behind the scenes in the same way that younger brother Chris did. 

Chris Cuomo was fired from CNN for helping Andrew through a sexual misconduct scandal and in the messy fallout from his departure, the affair between Zucker and Gollust has surfaced.

The two were due to take on senior roles within the new company, under the leadership of Zaslav. 

Zaslav then tapped Licht for the new role, a move by Discovery brass that seemingly sought to put multiple embarrassing scandals, including the one surrounding the network’s former star anchor Cuomo, in the rearview. 

Kilar has since been nixed from the new company, one of several casualties in a stream of layoffs stemming from the highly publicized merger, valued at $43 billion.

Earlier this month, a firing spree reportedly overseen by new boss Zaslav saw the departures of nine top Warner executives, the week the merger was finalized.

The nine departures included CEO Kilar, Warner Bros chief Ann Sarnoff, and HBO Max general manager Andy Forssell.

Other staffers included in the mass layoffs were WarnerMedia CRO Tony Goncalves, CTO Richard Tom, CFO Jennifer Biry, Executive Vice President Jim Cummings, CIO Christy Haubegger and WarnerMedia general counsel Jim Meza.  

All were top members of Kilar’s management team.

Sources have since claimed that ‘paranoid’ WarnerMedia and CNN staff are preparing for another round of redundancies in May, when Licht takes the reigns, expecting the new CEO to trim the companies even further.

‘I’ve never seen such paranoia. It’s bad, it’s crazy,’ a source from within the company told The Wrap this month.

‘These people are palpably nervous.’

Late last month, the network refused to deny reports that staffers are bracing for more firings next month due to subpar subscription signups for its CNN+ streaming service, which was unveiled last week with less-than-stellar results, drawing fewer than 10,000 daily users.’

Licht’s decision to leave Twitter comes as media outlets seek to better interact with readers and circumvent squabbles concerning partisanship and politics that have become prevalent in the press in recent years.

Earlier this month, The New York Times announced new guidance for reporters stating that the usage of social media was optional and vowed to work with journalists that are targeted by commenters online.

Several of CNN’s premier anchors, including liberal talking heads Lemon and Acosta, have marked presences in the social media sphere, and constantly engage readers and push back on other outlets and personalities – such as Fox News and its TV talent – who criticize the networks often partisan coverage of current events. 

Licht, sources said, seeks to rectify this model once he enters the hot seat, and has already engaged in talks with Fox about a rumored ‘ceasefire’ between the two networks, which regularly criticized another, often via social media.  

Upon appoint Licht in February, Zaslav called the CBS alum ‘a highly principled individual who is trusted, hard-working and makes every organization stronger, more innovative and more cohesive.’         

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