CNN’s public relations operation reportedly will no longer report to CEO Chris Licht — a sign that his position has become more tenuous in the wake of a disastrous magazine profile that depicted him as a thin-skinned, aloof executive who is isolated from employees who no longer trust his leadership.
The PR team at CNN will now be reporting to David Leavy, the newly installed chief operating officer who was put in place recently by Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Semafor reported Tuesday.
However, a CNN insider with knowledge of the situation told The Post that the PR team will still report to Licht through Leavy, who will be overseeing promotions in his new role.
The Post has sought comment from CNN and Warner Bros. Discovery.
Leavy’s hiring as COO was seen as a worrying sign for Licht, whose chaotic first year at the helm of ratings-challenged CNN was chronicled in a lengthy piece published Friday by the Atlantic magazine.
Leavy was initially scheduled to begin his new job on June 20, but the crisis triggered by the Atlantic story expedited the timetable and thrust him into his position immediately, according to reports.
CNN media reporter Oliver Darcy reported that “CNN journalists have not been shy in criticizing Licht” in their conversations with Leavy, who is tasked with putting out “the raging fire” that is engulfing the network.
Licht has been busy doing damage control to contain the fallout from the article, which has network staffers fuming, according to reports.
The CEO told his charges in a morning editorial meeting Monday that he was “sorry” about the magazine profile by journalist Tim Alberta, who was given firsthand access to Licht for stretches of his tenure as network head honcho.
The Atlantic story was ostensibly meant to be a sympathetic profile of Licht, but the public relations damage has been extensive, particularly since staffers were incensed at their boss’s criticism of the network’s COVID coverage under predecessor Jeff Zucker.
Zucker, who has been accused of undermining Licht by planting negative stories about CNN since he was forced to quit as network president due to his relationship with an underling, still reportedly retains the loyalty of staffers at the all-news cable outlet, according to the Atlantic.
Licht was portrayed in the Atlantic as insecure and paranoid about negative coverage of his reign as well as comparisons with Zucker.
“I should not be in the news,” Licht told alienated staffers during Monday’s editorial call.
“I know these past few days have been very hard for this group,” the former executive producer for Stephen Colbert added.
“I fully recognize that this news cycle and my role in it overshadowed the incredible week of reporting that we just had, and distracted from the work of every single journalist in this org,” Licht told staffers.
“And for that, I am sorry.”
“As I read that article, I found myself thinking, CNN is not about me,” Licht continued.
“I should not be in the news unless it’s taking arrows for you. Your work is what should be written about.”
Licht added: “To those whose trust I’ve lost, I will fight like hell to win it back, because you deserve a leader who will be in the trenches, fighting to ensure CNN remains the world’s most trusted name in news.”
Darcy criticized Licht in his Reliable Sources newsletter on Monday and quoted several CNN staffers who said Licht’s mea culpa was “too little, too late.”
This story originally appeared on NYPost