CNN boss Chris Licht told staffers that “more changes” are coming following this week’s announcement that “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter will exit the network and his show will be canceled.

“This is a time of change, and I know that it’s unsettling,” Licht said of Stelter’s exit during a Friday meeting of employees, adding: “There will be more changes and you might not understand it or like it all.”

Licht turned to Stelter, who anchored the media analysis program since 2013 and whose last show will air on Sunday, and said, “I really appreciate all that Brian has done to build the media beat for CNN. He’s a great human being and a good person. I wish him all the best on his new venture.”

Licht, who joined CNN in May, replacing CNN’s disgraced boss Jeff Zucker, asked staffers to be patient.

“We will continue covering media stories, including on TV, when warranted,” Licht said. “Give us some time, see how things develop, and then give us feedback.”

Brian Stelter
CNN’s top media analyst Brian Stelter exited the cable news network Thursday, after his show “Reliable Sources” was canned.
CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta
Under new management, CNN is focusing more on fact-based reporting versus opinion-based analysis.
LightRocket via Getty Images

A rep from CNN confirmed Licht’s latest comments, earlier reported by the Daily Beast, adding that they are similar to prior statements previously reported by the media.

CNN’s cancellation of “Reliable Sources” comes as the 11 a.m. Sunday show was dragging in the ratings. It also follows a bigger push under Licht for CNN’s coverage to be more centrist and less left-leaning. The “Reliable Sources” host has been outspoken on his views of former President Donald Trump, for instance, a vestige from Zucker’s reign at CNN.

The exec noted that the “Reliable Sources” newsletter will relaunch under reporter Oliver Darcy and that CNN “will be expanding” its coverage.

Brian Stelter
Stelter has been outspoken on his views of ex-President Trump, as well as conservative issues and media, which clashed with CNN’s new mission under Licht.

Zucker, who amped up CNN’s opinion-based coverage, was ousted over an office romance with his lieutenant, Allison Gollust, who also exited.

Licht, who was brought in by CNN’s new parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, has slowly been making his mark at the behest of CEO David Zaslav and influential shareholder John Malone.

Last week, CNN’s scandal-scarred legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin exited the network. Prior to that, Licht instilled a host of editorial guideline changes in an effort to pump up CNN’s journalistic credibility. They included decreasing the use of “Breaking News” on-air banners, using fewer partisan terms to describe Trump’s bogus election claims and a dialing back of partisan rhetoric on air.


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Tyler Cowan