CNN boss Chris Licht warns of ‘further changes’ after Brian Stelter gets Axt

More changes are coming, CNN network chief Chris Licht told staffers Friday — and they may not “like” or “understand” these changes at all.

During an editorial meeting Friday morning, Licht addressed the previous day’s dramatic announcement that CNN was ending its long-running Sunday media analysis show Reliable Sources and that its star host Brian Stelter would be leaving the network.

“We will continue to cover media stories, including on television, when warranted,” Licht stressed, multiple sources said, in response to concerns that CNN may stop covering media issues. He went on to explain that Reliable Sources’ newsletter is being relaunched under reporter Oliver Darcy and “we will be expanding our coverage.” Licht added of Stelter, “I really appreciate everything Brian has done to build the media punch for CNN. He’s a great person and a good person. I wish him all the best in his new venture.”

Licht acknowledged internal outrage at Stelter’s ouster, telling staff, “This is a time of change and I know it’s unsettling.” However, the CNN boss warned, “There will be more changes and you will.” maybe not understand or not like everything.”

He went on to ask staff to hold back on passing judgment on these future changes: “Give us some time, see how things go and then give us feedback.”

A CNN spokesman confirmed Licht’s comments, but added that they do not reflect any specific upcoming changes. “We’re constantly changing things and making decisions,” the spokesperson added, referencing Licht’s mention of future changes in past town halls.

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Stelter’s exit is just the latest — and perhaps the most headline-grabbing — change at CNN since Licht took over the network after ex-CEO Jeff Zucker was fired over an office romance with his first lieutenant Allison Gollust, who also left the company.

Most of Licht’s changes had come in the form of editorial guidelines: reduced use of “breaking news” on-air banners; the use of less partisan terms to describe Trump’s false election lies; and a recall of partiality in the air.

Such changes, seen by many as a way to cast CNN in a more dovish voice, have reportedly been met with some internal skepticism, particularly in light of recent comments from billionaire mogul John Malone, an influential shareholder of CNN’s owner Warner Bros. Discovery Inc .

Malone, the right-wing owner of Liberty Media, told CNBC last year that he “would like to see CNN go back to the kind of journalism it started with and actually have journalists, which would be unique and refreshing.” “.

In response, Stelter wrote in his newsletter Reliable Sources: “People who say that sugar-era CNN lacked real journalism clearly haven’t seen CNN directly. My best guess is that they watched Talking Heads and read columnists complaining about CNN. And yes, I am including John Malone.”

As such, some insiders saw Stelter’s departure as linked to Malone. “Everything about this rollout points to John Malone and [Discovery CEO] David Zaslav,” a source familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “Chris Licht didn’t want that.”

Malone responded to such speculation via email on Thursday The New York Times saying he had “nothing to do with” the Stelter firing and he would like “the ‘news’ portion of CNN to become more centrist, but I have no control nor am I directly involved.”

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