After news dropped on Wednesday morning that CNN’s CEO Chris Licht had been fired from the ratings-beleaguered network, additional reporting quickly revealed that top executives close to Licht had also been let go.
Licht’s outset followed quickly after a brutal profile in the Atlantic by Tim Alberta. The profile revealed Licht slamming CNN for the network’s Covid coverage and arguing that the he and the media had finally figured out how to cover Donald Trump. Trump’s CNN town hall in May resulted in an avalanche of criticism of Licht and cost him support from inside the network, which had already been eroding under his leadership.
CNN communications chief Kris Coratti, head of strategic communications Matt Dornic, and Licht’s chief of staff Devan Cayea were among those close to Licht who are also leaving the network. Dornic, a veteran PR operator for the CNN, had made a name for himself in the industry with colorful statements and an active Twitter account.
Dornic drew support from NBC News vice president of communications Richard Hudock on Twitter:
Alberta portrayed ousted CEO Licht in stark terms, writing, “Licht lived on an island, surrounded by people who disliked him, or doubted his vision for the company, or questioned his competency, or were outright rooting for his ruin.” The profile prompted a Monday morning apology from Licht during the network’s daily editorial, in which he said, “I fully recognize that this news cycle and my role in it have overshadowed the incredible week of reporting we just had and distracted from the work of every single journalist in this organization and for that, I’m sorry.”
“This experience has been tremendously humbling and to those whose trust I lost, I will fight like hell to win it back,” Licht added. No doubt the Atlantic debacle had shaken CNN’s communications department and was seen as a failure by many who work to uphold the network’s image.
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