CNN BOSS Chris Licht warns affected staff of "further changes" after removing "reliable sources" and leaving Brian Stelter


On Friday, CNN president and CEO Chris Licht told worried employees that more changes were underway on CNN, speaking of the news of Brian Stelter's departure following the cancellation of his Sunday Reliable Sources program.

According to the sources present, Licht told CNN staff at the editorial meeting on Friday, "There will be passages that you may disagree with or that you may not understand. No." Some thought this meant they might not like some of the changes.

He added: "I want to acknowledge to everyone that this is a time of change. I know it is worrying."

Licht also expressed irritation at some media reports on CNN's plans, calling them false assumptions. The executive pointed out to staff that these fluid plans were known only to a few in CNN's inner circle of management.

Yet the sudden departure of longtime reporter Stelter and decades-old Reliable Sources has left talents both on the air and behind the scenes at Warner Bros. Discovery's cable news network worried, as well as the direction in which CNN is striking, both for its own work.

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Warner Bros. Discovery cut costs and laid off employees after the merger.

At a recent city hall meeting, Licht told employees that the network would not fire. He said senior management is reviewing the entire organization to see if resources are being used properly. This process should lead to changes, Licht said.

However, the cancellation of Reliable Sources and the release of Stelter appear to have raised concerns. "Nobody is safe right now," a CNN contributor told Deadline Friday.

With about three years remaining on the seven-figure deal he signed in 2021, Stelter's departure also sparked immediate speculation about the role of John Malone, one of Warner Bros. Discovery's biggest investors.

While the merger was under review by the Justice Department, Malone told CNBC in November that he wanted to bring CNN back "to the kind of journalism it started with and actually has reporters." Then, after Jeff Zucker left the network in February, Stelter wrote about Malone's potential influence in his newsletter and explored it in his program. He wrote that Malone's comments "fueled fears that Discovery might stifle CNN reporters from crying unfairly and unfairly."

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"It comes from above," an insider told Deadline This Morning. The influential shareholder source added: "If it doesn't come directly from John Malone, it definitely represents the thought of him with the lieutenants carrying out his orders."

Disconnecting CNN + a few days after the streaming company launched and now shutting down Stelter and his staff, at least now he's portrayed Licht as doing the unenviable job of letting people go. "That's not why Chris came to CNN to fire people," noted a well-positioned corporate source. "He is trapped between a rock and a hard tip and is crushed."

But this is disputed by one network source, and another called it conspiratorial, as CNN renewed its Sunday lineup, wanting a more consumer-centric show for a wider audience rather than a show about the entertainment industry. average. Malone himself told the New York Times in an email that he had "nothing to do with" the cancellation of Reliable Source. He also told the Times that he would like the "news" part of CNN to become more centrist, but I am not in control and I am not directly involved. "

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With that in mind, Licht sought to paint the best possible face during Thursday's layoffs, which will include Reliable Sources employees who will have the opportunity to apply elsewhere on the net. "I've known Brian since he ran TVNewser as a student," said Stelter's CEO.