CEO Chris Licht confirmed that Michael Bass, who is a top programming executive at CNN, is leaving the outlet. In a memo sent to employees of the network, Licht said: “Throughout his nearly decade-long run at this organization, Michael has demonstrated incredible leadership and perseverance.” “He has been a steady hand during some of the most turbulent times this network has faced,” he added.
Bass made the decision to leave and a search for his replacement is underway, said Licht. Bass served as CNN’s executive vice president of programming, said The Hill. According to multiple reports, Bass is set to leave the network by the end of the year.
Since taking over as president earlier this year, Licht has overseen a slew of major personnel and programming changes at CNN under the newly formed media conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery, and that is where the executive’s announced departure comes from.
The revamping of CNN’s morning news show and the cancellation of its long-running Sunday media affairs program are among the changes Licht has implemented into the network. These moves are coming during a time of sluggish ratings for CNN and across cable news more generally since former President Trump left office.
Licht said in a recent wide-ranging interview with the journalist Kara Swisher, that he does not want producers, talent, and showrunners, who are underneath him, to be focused on ratings but rather on executing their jobs in line with his vision of a more sober, fact-based CNN than the model of the company under his predecessor, Jeff Zucker.
Here is what Licht said during that interview: “I don’t, do not, want someone who’s producing an hour of television on CNN saying, ‘You know what? I could lead with this or I could lead with that. I’m going to lead with that because it’ll get a better number.’ I want people leading and stacking their shows in a way based on journalism and what’s important.”
“Let me worry about the ratings. Chase stories, not ratings,” he explained. These changes are also coming as Licht has been charged with implementing a series of cuts and layoffs at the network, expected to take place next month.