Chris Licht Says Tumultuous CNN Tenure Was ‘Exciting but Incredibly Challenging’ in Post-Exit Statement

The former CEO departed the network Wednesday morning

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Chris Licht has broken his silence following his abrupt departure as CEO and global chairman of CNN Wednesday morning, calling his tenure “exciting but incredibly challenging.”

“This was an exciting but incredibly challenging assignment, and I learned a lot over the past 13 months,” Licht said in a statement to media. “I’ve been lucky enough to have had a successful, fulfilling career, and I look forward to my next chapter.”

Licht’s statement comes hours after the former CEO’s ouster was announced by Warner Bros. Discovery chief David Zaslav in an editorial call, in which Zaslav said, “I met with Chris and he will be leaving CNN… We’re in the process of conducting a wide search, internally and externally, for a new leader.”

According to the New York Times, Zaslav invited Licht to meet him in Central Park Wednesday morning at 7:00 a.m., where Zaslav broke the news of Licht’s termination to the former CEO in the same spot where he was first offered the job.

Zaslav elaborated on the decision in a memo sent to staffers, which solidified Licht’s exit as effective immediately.

“I have great respect for Chris, personally and professionally,” Zaslav wrote in the memo. “The job of leading CNN was never going to be easy, especially at a time of huge disruption and transformation, and he has poured his heart and soul into it. While we know we have work to do as we look to identify a new leader, we have absolute confidence in the team we have in place and will continue to fight for CNN and its world class journalism.”

Licht’s exit follows the widespread circulation of a damning 16,000-word profile in The Atlantic, which added more fuel to the Trump town hall fire by alleging that Licht told the former president to “have fun” during the live event.

While Licht apologized for distracting from CNN journalists’ hard work, saying on an editorial meeting that he “should not be in the news unless it’s taking arrows for you,” the comments did “little to move the needle” amongst staffers, according to CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy, who wrote in his Reliable Sources newsletter that “Licht has lost the room.”