New CNN Leadership to Staff: Now It’s Time to ‘Meet the Moment’

Following the firing of CEO Chris Licht, CNN executives aim to reassure journalists about the network’s future

Amy Entelis (Photo Credit: Jai Lennard/CNN)
CNN Digital Expansion 2022 Amy Entelis (Photo Credit: Jai Lennard/CNN)

Working at CNN has been “disorienting” and “unsettling” lately, but the network’s interim leadership pledged to “meet the moment” and “recalibrate and recommit to the vision set by Ted Turner when CNN was born,” in a memo to staff early Thursday.

The note was sent following the ouster of Chris Licht, who’s turbulent 13-month stint as CEO of the floundering news network ended Wednesday, days after a withering profile appeared in The Atlantic.

The memo, signed by Amy Entelis, Virginia Mosely, Eric Sherling and David Leavy, who was brought on as COO of CNN Worldwide last week, was released by CNN. It was also posted on Twitter by Oliver Darcy, CNN’s senior media reporter.

Entelis, executive vice president of talent and content development and widely thought to be in line to take Licht’s job, was tapped Wednesday along with Mosely, executive vice president of editorial and Sherling, executive vice president of U.S. programming, to right the ship while a search for a permanent CEO is held.

The new leadership team started their note praising CNN’s journalists as “an integral and distinctive source of news for viewers around the world,” and called out various recent reporting, including scoops about former President Donald Trump, town halls with presidential candidates Nikki Haley and Mike Pence and reporting from the Ukraine War and on the Canadian wildfires.

“It’s clearer than ever that our team represents the best news journalists in the world,” the note stated, an an apparent effort to sooth the newsroom after the turbulent reign of Licht, who Darcy said on Tuesday had “lost the room” when it came to the network’s journalists. Several of CNN’s top anchors and correspondents brought their complaints about Licht to Leavy in the days leading up to his firing, Darcy reported.

The four executives appear to understand they must attempt to heal the fractured relationships. “Now it’s the time for us as the leadership of CNN to meet the moment, as you have done time and time again,” the memo said.

“As we jump in to lead the organization on an interim basis, we are humbled by the task before us and are committed to making this period as smooth as possible. Our goal is to remove the barriers and distractions that have made your jobs harder, refocus on the unparalleled work you are producing every day, and offer open and regular lines of communication to ensure that you feel invested and engaged in our path forward.”

While Licht is gone, the network’s challenges remain, with ratings floundering and the political focus adrift and massive budget cuts still being implemented.

“There will be more to share over the coming weeks and months,” the memo concluded, “but in the meantime, we want you to know we are fully committed to championing the important work being done across all teams around the world.”

Additional reporting by Lucas Manfredi