Ousted CNN head honcho Jeff Zucker is publicly and privately criticizing the leadership skills of the network’s current boss Christ Licht, as he continues to stew over the terms of his departure from the network in early 2022.
Zucker is reportedly moving on to his next media venture, but still taking shots at his replacement and the old news network he used to head.
Shortly after Zucker left CNN amid a scandal involving an affair with a co-worker, he was taken back when his replacement, Licht, appeared disinclined to embrace guidance from the man who had helped CNN for the last nine years.
‘It is wholly unsurprising that Jeff Zucker, the architect of CNN’s unprecedented success, would have deep misgivings about the direction the network has taken since he left,’ said Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for Mr. Zucker.
The report of Zucker’s offering to help Licht, and his concerns, comes just days after an embarrassing profile on Licht and his first year at CNN was released. There has been speculations that Licht could soon be replaced as the head of CNN.
Ousted CNN boss Jeff Zucker was reportedly miffed that current head honcho Chris Licht did not embrace his advice about how to run the network
Chris Licht, who was chosen by Warner Discovery CEO David Zaslav, to lead CNN in the post-Zucker era, has struggled to right the ship as viewership numbers continue to tank
Since he resigned from his post, Zucker has been forthright, including with a group of Yale students in April, about his version of his dramatic network cancelation.
Zucker, 58, believes CNN’s owners used his relationship with Allison Gollust – the network’s former communications chief – as a pretext to fire him. The pair had failed to report their romantic relationship to the proper parties, despite reports that it was hardly a secret the pair were entangled.
‘I gave them a gun, and they shot me with it,’ Zucker told a room of Yale students, which also included Gollust.
Current CNN and Warner Discovery (CNN’s parent company) executives don’t enjoy hearing Zucker’s relatively open criticism of the network and his successor’s job running it.
However, they are also plagued with the reality of tanking viewership numbers, and a run from Licht that has not righted the ship.
CNN’s news division, which once generated more than $1billion annually, raked in just $750million – partially due to the $200million loss the company took on the total shutdown of CNN+ just one month after its highly publicized launch.
Following years of sensational coverage of the Trump White House and the COVID-19 pandemic, the network began enduring the so-called Trump slump, and even with a presidential cycle heating up, the network’s numbers are down 30 percent relative to this time during the 2016 cycle.
Licht and David Zaslav – the CEO of Warner Discovery and Licht’s boss – have said that under the reign of Zucker, CNN, for a time, became an ‘advocacy network,’ referring to the network’s unrelentingly negative coverage of Trump and his White House.
Zucker disagrees vehemently, arguing that under his oversight, the network’s coverage of Trump delivered ‘journalistic and financial success,’ according to the Times.
CNN has struggled, in the wake of the Trump presidency and under new leadership, to maintain its viewership and revenue numbers
Zucker and Gollust both left the network after it became public that the pair were in a romantic relationship. Zucker has said he believes the relationship, which they did not disclose, was used as a pretext to oust him
Chris Licht is facing mounting pressure from his bosses and employees to get a grip on the network. Last week, an unflattering profile of him ran in The Atlantic, which follows the much criticized Trump town hall
Warner Discovery executives believe that as Zucker attempts to figure out his next steps, he is waging a proxy war against Licht, whose leadership he wishes to undermine.
Among other things, they believe Zucker has leaked unflattering information about CNN to the press on several occasions.
A representative for Zucker denied the accusations but told the Times: ‘It is wholly unsurprising that Jeff Zucker, the architect of CNN’s unprecedented success, would have deep misgivings about the direction the network has taken since he left.’
The spokesperson added that it should shock no one that Zucker ‘gets asked a lot, publicly and privately, and regularly from former colleagues, about what he thinks of CNN now.’
As far as Zucker’s current business endeavors, the Times report offers that the megacorporate network leader is working on starting a new venture called RedBird IMI, which will have $1billion to spend on acquisitions in digital media, sports, entertainment and new industries.
Licht remains the head of CNN, though some on the left have accused him of taking the news giant to the right of the political spectrum. His time has seen declining ratings and controversies, such as the firing of Don Lemon.
Lemon was fired this spring after 17 years at the network and a series of scandals that ultimately forced Licht’s hand, though some reports indicate Licht had long been angling for Lemon’s departure.
Licht admitted he wished he had done some things differently, including taking a slow approach with changes
Lemon has been mired in controversy in recent months following mounting claims about his misogyny at the network. Initially, he was demoted to a morning news position and then later fired.
The Atlantic piece noted that Licht had grown tired of Lemon and his behaviors, telling him the morning show shouldn’t be ‘preachy.’
‘A lot of people are Monday-morning-quarterbacking about what happened’ at CNN, Lemon told The Atlantic about the atmosphere at CNN. ‘You have to remember the time that we were in. Every single day, we were being attacked by the former administration. And that’s not hyperbole … We had bombs sent to this very network.’
Licht admitted there were some things he wished he did differently, mainly that he wished he didn’t come into CNN with the gusto that he would be a different leader than Zucker.
‘I was intent on trying to draw a line of difference between the old regime and the new regime,’ Licht said. ‘I should have just sort of slowly come in, without making these grand pronouncements of how different I was going to be.’
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk