CNN May See a Big Shift Under New Leader

Colbert showrunner Chris Licht announced as Jeff Zucker's replacement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 27, 2022 9:10 AM CST
Updated Feb 28, 2022 3:15 PM CST
CNN's New Chief: Colbert's Showrunner
A file photo of Chris Licht, left, and Stephen Colbert.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

Updated: A CBS exec with a successful track record in TV will indeed be the next president of CNN. Discovery Inc. confirmed Monday that Chris Licht will replace Jeff Zucker, reports the Wall Street Journal. “Chris is a dynamic and creative producer, an engaging and thoughtful journalist, and a true news person,” said Discovery Chief Executive David Zaslav. Licht can't start until May, however, because he has to wait for the merger of Discovery and CNN parent company WarnerMedia to clear. Our story from Sunday follows:

CBS executive Chris Licht, who is currently running Stephen Colbert's late-night show after helping to build two news programs, is expected to become the new president of CNN, per the AP. Licht will be named as soon as next week to the job, according to an executive familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity. The selection was first reported Saturday by the website Puck. He would not be able to take over until the deal giving CNN new corporate ownership gets federal approval, expected early this spring.

  • Pedigree: The new chief is currently executive vice president of special programming at CBS. Before taking over as executive producer at Colbert's Late Show in 2016, guiding it to the top of the ratings, Licht ran CBS This Morning, the network's morning news show. Before joining CBS in 2012, he was the top behind-the-scenes executive at MSNBC's Morning Joe in its formative years.
  • A shift? Axios reports that Licht plans to move CNN away from left-leaning "opining" and back to more traditional news-gathering. The shift is coming about because David Laslav, CEO of Discovery (whose merger with CNN parent company WarnerMedia is pending) wants the network to return to its hard-news roots.
(Licht replaces Jeff Zucker, who resigned after a relationship with another CNN exec came to light.)

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