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Chris Licht, the Real-Life Tom Wambsgans, Has Been Fired by CNN

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 7, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | June 7, 2023 |


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If an embattled CEO (or showrunner, or actor, or director) is good enough at their job, they can usually ride out bad press. Not so when the bad press comes as a result of being bad at their job. Such is the case with Chris Licht, who managed to survive low ratings, bad decisions, Don Lemon, and the disastrous Donald Trump Town Hall, but he could not survive a profile from The Atlantic where his trainer came off as not only nicer but more competent than the CEO of CNN.

After 16 months, Chris Licht is out at CNN, as first reported by Puck News. He will be replaced, at least on an interim basis, by a loyal Jeff Zucker deputy, Amy Entelis. David Leavy, who had already been installed to run the business side, will continue to do so as the network searches for a new CEO. Jeff Zucker might take his old job back, but CNN might do better than to hire another middle-aged white guy who pulls solutions from the same Rolodex.

Chris Licht was bad at a job he never should have been hired to do because he was never qualified to do it in the first place, beyond his ability to schmooze with the right person (David Zaslav) in The Hamptons. Licht is taking the fall here—as he should—but David Zaslav should take as much blame for bringing him in and keeping him in that position long after his own employees had lost faith in him. While the success or failure of “Max” has yet to be seen, no one person has harmed the reputation of Warner Brothers/Discovery/HBO more than Zaslav.