CNN boss Chris Licht’s dirty work is done — for now.

The left-leaning news network’s new chief executive cut hundreds of jobs Thursday in an effort to shore up costs and transform the struggling cable news network.

CNN had roughly 4,400 employees prior to Thursday’s bloodbath. The layoffs hit hundreds of staffers, but amounted to a “single-digit percentage” of staff, according to a source with knowledge. That would mean no more than 440 staffers were handed pink slips.

A source close to the situation said Licht’s brutal round of cuts were now over.

Leading up to this week, CNN execs discussed slashing $100 million. CNN did not comment on whether they hit that number.

As reported by The Post, Licht chopped HLN shows “Morning Express with Robin Meade” and “Weekend Express,” as well as prominent CNN correspondents Alison Kosik, Martin Savidge, Alex Field, Mary Ann Fox, and Chris Cillizza. He also targeted staffers working on long-form storytelling, as well as paid contributors.

Chris licht
CNN CEO Chris Licht slashed hundreds of jobs, as he now looks to lift the cable news network out of third place.
Getty Images for Warner Bros. Di

“Our goal throughout the strategic review process has been to better align our people, processes and resources with our future priorities, strengthen our ability to deliver on CNN’s core journalistic mission and enable us to innovate in the years ahead,” Licht wrote in a memo to staffers Thursday. 

“At the highest level, the goal is to direct our resources to best serve and grow audiences for our core news programming and products,” he continued.

Licht is also expected to unveil details of a new daytime lineup for CNN in the coming days, as sources wondered about the futures of high-salaried anchors like Briana Keiler, John Berman, Chris Wallace, Kasie Hunt, and Audie Cornish.

CNN HQ in Atlanta
The budget cuts are part of parent company Warner Bros. Discovery’s mandate to cut $3 billion by 2024.
Getty Images

A source with knowledge told The Post that those anchors are not on the chopping block but could find homes in open programming slots.

Licht confirmed that beginning Dec. 6, CNN would no longer produce live programming for HLN, formally known as Headline News, and would instead simulcast “CNN This Morning,” co-hosted by Don Lemon. As a result, HLN’s Meade was let go.

HLN crime programming will now move under the WBD Networks, led by Kathleen Finch, and will be merged with the ID cable channel.  

Chris Cillizza
CNN political commentator Chris Cillizza was one of Licht’s more high-profile terminations.
Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

Though Licht has put away the axe for now, he faces enormous challenges. CNN lags behind rivals MSNBC and Fox News in total viewership this year, according to TV ratings data from Nielsen. That alone has impacted financials at CNN, pushing profitability below the $1 billion mark for the first time since 2016, S&P Market Intelligence recently said.

Aside from ratings, Licht has to remake the daytime and primetime lineups and fill CNN’s important 9 p.m. slot still open after the firing of disgraced anchor Chris Cuomo in late 2021.

Also, CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery is under a larger mandate to shore up at least $3 billion by 2024, after acquiring the assets of the company formerly known as WarnerMedia from AT&T.

Warner Bros. Discovery, which also owns HBO Max, Hollywood studio Warner Bros. and HGTV, recently said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it would have to spend between $1 billion and $1.5 billion to scrap programming already commissioned and pay out severance packages.

The media conglomerate also said it expected to take write-downs of potentially more than $4 billion in pre-tax charges through 2022.


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Tyler Cowan