OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Longtime CNN journalist Barbara Starr is leaving the network after nearly two decades.
“In a memo to her CNN colleagues on Friday that was viewed by The Hill, Starr said her contract with the network would expire in the coming days and she has made the decision to move on from the cable news giant. Starr has spent more than two decades at CNN, primarily serving as the network’s Pentagon correspondent covering military and defense issues,” The Hill reported.
“She made headlines most recently in 2021 when she revealed former President Trump’s administration was seeking to manipulate both her and CNN when the Department of Justice (DOJ) secretly obtained her email records during its investigation into news leaks. Starr is the latest in a slew of marquee front-facing talent to leave CNN in recent months as the company enters a new era under CEO Chris Licht,” the outlet added. “Licht has made significant changes to CNN’s programming and personnel since taking over this summer, earlier this month rolling out a series of layoffs and job cuts as the network’s parent company, WarnerBros. Discovery looks to trim expenditures.”
She wrote in a memo to staffers, “To my many colleagues and friends, With the expiration of my contract in the coming days I have made the decision to move on. Let me say this…you never say goodbye to your friends, so I won’t.”
Barbara Starr leaving CNN after more than two decades https://t.co/wb03lMGOKR pic.twitter.com/1DE5ZdzVsl
— The Hill (@thehill) December 9, 2022
The new ownership at CNN unleashed a bloodbath on staff as it dropped the ax and some prominent talent and promised that there is more to come.
It came a day after CNN chief Chris Licht informed employees at the network that layoffs were coming, and this round was headed by politics reporter and editor-at-large Chris Cillizza, the Daily Beast reported.
CNN also parted ways with correspondents Alison Kosik, Alexandra Field, and Martin Savidge, as well as Mary Anne Fox, the VP of northeast news. Furthermore, CNN will end all live programming on sister network HLN, resulting in the cancellation of the long-running morning program Morning Express. The show’s anchor, Robin Meade, who has been with the network since 2001, and other HLN hosts will lose their jobs.
Additionally, the network has also parted ways with several paid on-air contributors, reportedly including New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser and Politico reporter Jonathan Martin.
“Beginning December 6, CNN will no longer produce live programming for HLN and instead will simulcast CNN This Morning. HLN Crime programming will move under the WBD Networks led by Kathleen Finch and will be merged with ID,” the CEO said. “I want to take a moment to thank Robin Meade— she is not only an exceptionally popular anchor, but also one of the longest-running morning hosts in history. I know the HLN audience will miss her and the other HLN talent.”
He also said that CNN would be “shifting our approach to paid contributors,” and that “programming teams will see some reductions in show staffs and, in some cases, the combination of teams for our dayside and weekend lineups.”
“To our departing colleagues, I want to express my gratitude for your dedicated and tireless service and for your many contributions to CNN,” he said. “To all employees, I want to underscore the importance of taking the time you need to best be able to move forward.”
CNN BLOODBATH: Network fires Chris Cillizza and correspondents Alison Kosik, Alex Field, host Martin Savidge and Robin Meade in ruthless round of layoffshttps://t.co/AmonXfe26t
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) December 2, 2022
In the memo to staff, the CEO said more layoffs would be coming.
An October report from former Mediaite managing editor Jim Nicosia said that the network has decided he no longer fits with the new direction of the company.
“SCOOP: Another “big name” about to exit @CNN. (Stay tuned),” he said at the start of the week.
“Discovery Executive: ‘He does not have a place in the new CNN. He reminds us of the Zucker period we are looking to move far from. The only reason he is still on air was not to look like we were ‘cleaning house’ for political reasons right after the closing,’” he said. “I agreed not to report the name until the end of the week.”
Discovery Executive: "He does not have a place in the new CNN. He reminds us of the Zucker period we are looking to move far from. The only reason he is still on air was not to look like we were 'cleaning house' for political reasons right after the closing"
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) October 11, 2022
On Friday he gave the name of the person as Acosta.
“The person this Discovery exec was talking about is Jim Acosta. CNN (like they did when I reported about Stelter being let go) will be to defend the person. That’s what network PR people do. Keep in mind many of the recent people let go had big support within the network but did not fit into the ‘middle ground’ vision CNN is being pushed into.
“Since Acosta was the main Trump lightning rod between the ‘old’ CNN and the new owners future vision he will either go quick, or with a lot of internal pushback. Stay tuned,” he said.
The person this Discovery exec was talking about is Jim Acosta. CNN (like they did when I reported about Stelter being let go) will be to defend the person. That’s what network PR people do. Keep in mind many of the recent people let go had big support within the network /more
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) October 14, 2022
“One important thing that this executive wanted to stress is they are nowhere near done, and Acosta won’t be the last of the ‘old guard’ to go, but this ‘takes time’ and ‘they’re getting an incredible amount of internal push back from people who want to stay a resistance network,’” he said.
One important thing that this executive wanted to stress is they are nowhere near done, and Acosta won’t be the last of the “old guard” to go, but this “takes time” and “they’re getting an incredible amount of internal push back from people who want to stay a resistance network”
— Jon Nicosia (@NewsPolitics) October 14, 2022
On Monday, the network announced it named Phil Mattingly as CNN’s chief White House correspondent. Mattingly succeeds Kaitlin Collins, who recently moved to New York City and took an on-air morning show post alongside former prime-time host Don Lemon.
Mediaite said that Mattingly joined CNN in 2015 to cover the 2016 GOP presidential primaries. He has also been a network congressional correspondent.
Meanwhile, MJ Lee took Mattingly’s spot as CNN’s senior White House correspondent.
“So incredibly grateful and excited for my next chapter at CNN. It’s a dream to work with the most amazing team in the business,” she tweeted.
So incredibly grateful and excited for my next chapter at CNN. It's a dream to work with the most amazing team in the business.
And huge congrats to @Phil_Mattingly, a great colleague and friend, and so excited that @priscialva is officially joining us! https://t.co/RdaJAoXV6f
— MJ Lee (@mj_lee) November 28, 2022