Discovery Veteran David Leavy Set as COO of CNN Worldwide

In his new role, Leavy will oversee commercial, operational and promotional efforts across CNN Worldwide

david leavy discovery
Former Discovery COO David Leavy was named COO of CNN Worldwide (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Discovery Communications)

CNN on Thursday named longtime Discovery Inc. executive David C. Leavy as chief operating officer of CNN Worldwide, effective June 20.

Leavy, who spent 23 years at Discovery Inc. and its successor Warner Bros. Discovery as a close associate of CEO David Zaslav, will have responsibility over commercial, operational and promotional activities across CNN Worldwide, reporting to CNN CEO Chris Licht.

“David’s deep operational experience, institutional knowledge and key industry relationships perfectly complements the strengths of our leadership team,” Licht said in a statement. “He is a strategic, versatile and dynamic executive who will work with myself and the senior leadership team to help transform our business as we get the full programming slate on the air, build out our digital future and grow the CNN brand around the world.”

“Everyone who works with David has seen how his energy, work ethic and collaborative style positively impacts an organization, and I can’t wait for him to join me and the CNN team,” Licht added.

Leavy currently serves as chief corporate affairs officer for Warner Bros. Discovery. The company said he will maintain public policy and social responsibility oversight on behalf of the entertainment giant going forward.

The appointment comes as Licht attempts to revamp CNN’s news operations amid a ratings slump. The network was broadly admonished for its “Town Hall” featuring former President Donald Trump — which its own media reporter Oliver Darcy said descended into a “spectacle of lies,” but that Licht strenuously defended.

“I absolutely unequivocally believe America was served very well by what we did last night,” Licht said on a call with CNN staffers after getting slammed for various aspects of the event.

Zaslav also defended the town hall despite the uproar.

While it generated a good deal of criticism, the town hall also succeeded in drawing 3.3 million viewers, or roughly four or five times the time slot’s usual draw.

Licht has also shaken up the network’s programming lineup, and most notably fired Don Lemon, who was seen as weighing down the news channel’s ratings by turning off target viewers.

Prior to the merger of Discovery and WarnerMedia to create Warner Bros. Discovery in April 2022, Leavy served as COO for Discovery, where he oversaw the launch of Discovery+ in 2021, the company’s public listing on the NASDAQ exchange in 2008; its agreement to acquire Scripps Networks Interactive in 2018, and Discovery and Eurosport’s agreement for rights to the Olympic Games across Europe.

Prior to Discovery, Leavy was chief spokesman and senior director of public affairs for the National Security Council and deputy White House press secretary for foreign affairs under President Bill Clinton.