On Thursday, CNN’s global employee town hall generated some interesting news as new boss Chris Licht announced some of the plans and intentions to his nearly 5,000 underlings. Among the headline-worthy items to come out was Licht’s dissatisfaction with the morning show New Day, a desire to have something “fun” in Chris “Fredo” Cuomo’s old 9:00 p.m. timeslot, a clampdown on leaks, and stringing former CNN+ host Chris Wallace along.
According to The New York Times, which says they have a recording of the meeting, Licht doesn’t much like what the network has going on with their low-rated morning show New Day. “Mr. Licht said that he thought CNN’s morning show could be a ‘disruptive force’ and added that he planned to work with the CNN executive producer Eric Hall to figure out the future of its early lineup,” Times reporter Benjamin Mullin wrote.
Licht can reportedly be heard saying in the recording: “Once I find out where the bathrooms are, one of the things I’m really looking forward to is sitting down with him and his team and figuring out what can this show be?”
More on programming, Licht says he doesn’t plan to name a successor to Fredo’s old timeslot until the fall and wants to do some “experimenting” with it over the summer. Licht apparently wants to try something “fun” there:
“Let’s try some things at 9 o’clock,” Mr. Licht said, according to a recording of the meeting reviewed by The New York Times. “Let’s have some fun with it. Let’s just try some things. But my intention is to have a show ready to launch in the fall at 9 o’clock.”
In terms of names that could take over that hour, Puck News co-founder and former CNN media writer Dylan Byers reported that Warner Brothers Discovery was going to string former Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace along after CNN+ got shut down.
Byers reports that Wallace’s show, “Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace, will move to HBO Max” while “Wallace will continue to do work for CNN, as well.” He deduced that “[t]he maneuver appears to be a graceful way to respect Wallace’s stature in the business, try something new, and presumably keep him warm for future high-profile interviews or debates or bipartisan political tentpoles [sic], perhaps a harbinger of what’s to come.”
And in something of a palace intrigue side of Licht’s formal arrival at CNN, he’s ditching the office of ousted boss Jeff Zucker. “Zucker’s office—first at the Time Warner building, then at Hudson Yards—was right in the middle of the newsroom, which gave journalists the impression that their fearless leader was with them in the trenches,” Byers wrote.
But Licht is apparently pulling the ejector seat and shooting off to “a corporate office on the 22nd floor, at a far remove from the newsroom.”
The Times also noted that Licht wants to make the network sea-worthy again by filling in all the leaks. In the meeting, Licht told employees he was impressed with their former history of not leaking internal drama to other outlets, telling them he feels they “gone away from that a little bit” and wanted a “reset.”
That seems to be working out…