CNN CEO Under Fire: Chris Licht Tells Staffers 'I Should Not Be in the News' After His Donald Trump Town Hall Meltdown Goes Viral

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Jun. 5 2023, Updated 4:35 p.m. ET

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Chris Licht appeared to warn CNN staff members against leaking details of what he says to them during their morning meetings after his alleged meltdown following Donald Trump's controversial Town Hall Q&A hit headlines.

"I should not be in the news unless it’s taking arrows for you," he told them on Monday, June 5, according to two sources. "Your work is what should be written about."

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Licht was not pleased with the embattled politician's behavior during the Wednesday, May 10, broadcast, with journalist Tim Alberta claiming in a recent writeup that the CEO wore "the expression of a man who had just survived a car wreck" and looked "pale" with his "shoulders slumped" after the now-infamous Town Hall.

"Republicans were angry at CNN. Democrats were angry at CNN. Journalists were angry at CNN," Alberta continued at the time. "The only one who wasn’t angry, it seemed, was Trump, most likely because he’d succeeded in disgracing the network on its own airwaves."

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Aside from Alberta's scathing profile on the 51-year-old's behavior after the Town Hall, Licht has faced a steady stream of many other less-than flattering leaks from employees since he took on the role as CEO of the world-famous news network in May 2022. But according to the sources, he is hoping to one day earn the loyalty of his staffers.

"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," he said later in Monday's meeting, per the sources.

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As OK! previously reported, Licht came under fire after agreeing to let CNN host the highly disputed Q&A session. However, he defended his decisions, arguing that his goal for the network was for it to be a "source of absolute truth" for watchers.

"Everyone has an agenda, trying to shape events or shape thought," the executive explained in a statement. "There's good actors, there's bad actors, there's a lot of sh** in the world. There has to be something that you're able to look at and go, 'They have no agenda other than the truth.'"

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The sources spoke with Variety about Licht's Monday meeting.


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