CNN Names Mark Thompson Its New CEO, Replacing Ousted Leader Chris Licht

The news of Thompson's hiring comes three months after Licht was fired as CEO and chairman of the network

CNN has a new CEO, the network announced Wednesday. Mark Thompson, former chief executive of The New York Times and director-general of the BBC, will take over as chief executive and chairman beginning Oct. 9.

“There isn’t a more experienced, respected or capable executive in the news business today than Mark, and we are thrilled to have him join our team and lead CNN Worldwide into the future,” David Zaslav, the chief executive of CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement issued Wednesday.

The news of Thompson's hiring comes three months after Chris Licht was ousted as CEO and chairman of CNN following the release of a scathing profile of the executive by The Atlantic.

Related: CNN Boss Chris Licht Tells Staff ‘Sorry’ for Losing Their Trust, Says He’ll ‘Fight Like Hell’ to Win It Back

<p>Mike Coppola/Getty</p> Former CNN CEO and Chairman Chris Licht

Mike Coppola/Getty

Former CNN CEO and Chairman Chris Licht

Journalist Tim Alberta spent months speaking with Licht for the June Atlantic profile, which painted Licht as an executive who is out of touch with his employees, many of whom reacted to the profile with disappointment.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav sent an internal memo to CNN employees announcing Licht's departure days after the profile was published, a move that many saw coming after a slew of missteps damaged company morale and tanked the network's viewership.

"[Licht's] job was never going to be easy, especially at a time of great disruption and transformation, and Chris poured his heart and soul into it," Zaslav wrote in the memo, which was obtained by PEOPLE. "He has a deep love for journalism and this business and that has been evident throughout his tenure."

"Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we had hoped — and ultimately that’s on me," Zaslav continued. "I take responsibility. Needless to say, we appreciate Chris’ efforts and dedication and wish him all the best."

Related: CNN Staff 'Celebrating' Ouster of Boss Chris Licht: 'Bad Move After Bad Move' (Source)

Speaking to PEOPLE shortly after Licht's ouster, one former CNN employee said that office morale has already seen improvement, and that staffers were "celebrating in the newsrooms."

"They say his office being on the high floor, the private planes and the Trump Town Hall were bad move after bad move," the source said at the time, referencing a disastrous town hall with Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, which saw the former president repeatedly bulldoze moderator Kaitlan Collins and make largely unchecked claims on live television.

Will Lanzoni/CNN Former President Donald Trump participates in a CNN Republican Town Hall moderated by Kaitlan Collins on May 10, 2023
Will Lanzoni/CNN Former President Donald Trump participates in a CNN Republican Town Hall moderated by Kaitlan Collins on May 10, 2023

Following the town hall, CNN received criticism online from the public, news reporters and former TV news executives, and phrases like BoycottCNN, DoneWithCNN and ByeCNN trended all night after the broadcast, per The Washington Post. The network also saw a quick and dramatic dip in ratings.

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At a staff meeting after the town hall, Licht reportedly defended the broadcast to staff members, even promoting Collins to a primetime slot the following week.

Licht took over running the network in February 2022 after former CEO Jeff Zucker abruptly resigned. Since then, CNN host Brian Stelter exited the network following the cancellation of his morning show Reliable Sources, and host John Hardwood left amid several changes at the network. Longtime anchor Don Lemon was also fired from the network in April.

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