Fox News contributor Joe Concha reacted to CNN CEO Chris Licht leaving the network, Wednesday, telling "America's Newsroom" Trump's town hall last month "broke" the dam at headquarters, capped off by a scathing article in The Atlantic that "ultimately brought him down."
JOE CONCHA: He had inherited a network that had lost 75% of its audience. When you're comparing early 2021 with the spring of 2022 when he came in and new leadership there gave him marching orders, basically saying move this network back to the center, the network. It was under Bernard Shaw, Aaron Brown, and a guy named Bill Hemmer. Right. Less provocative opinion, more solid reporting, more Republicans on the air. But that did not sit well with many at the network and the dam broke over at that headquarters in Hudson Yards, just south of you, when they had the audacity of hosting Donald Trump, the clear frontrunner for Republican nomination, a former president that received 74 million votes in 2020 for a town hall. And these are the same people internally who had zero problem putting Trump on their air for countless interviews and multiple town halls back in 2016 because he was great for ratings and great for clicks. And now there is this moral outcry over the May 2023 town hall, and that was borderline hilarious to witness. But to your point, it was that Atlantic piece that came out just a few days ago that ultimately bought him down.
Licht is out after a little more than a year on the job, as he failed to turn around the long-troubled news network. He stepped down effective immediately, Fox News Digital confirmed on Wednesday.
"I have great respect for Chris, personally and professionally," Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a statement.
"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," Zaslav continued. "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 made it clear he wanted to "tamp down spectacle" that was rampant during the Zucker era. He toned down the use of the network’s breaking news graphics, fired left-leaning figures like John Harwood and Brian Stelter, and reached out to Republican lawmakers who had been alienated by the prior regime's approach. But liberal staffers who craved the Zucker-era partisan tone never embraced Licht, who came to CNN from CBS’ "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."
He was regularly attacked by liberal media critics and his tenure was plagued with internal leaks from CNN staffers. He was also forced to make difficult choices, such as axing the costly CNN+ streaming service, a widely panned Zucker-era product that puzzled onlookers and insiders from the start, and undertake company-ordered layoffs.
Fox News' David Rutz, Brian Flood and Joseph Wulfsohn contributed to this report.