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New Round Of Layoffs At CNN Sees Top Talent Cut

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


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.”

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.

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“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.”

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.

“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.

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.

“Long line of big shoes to fill – and an absolute privilege to attack that challenge head-on alongside the best White House team in the game. Back to work,” tweeted Mattingly.

Mediaite said that Mattingly joined CNN in 2015 to cover the 2016 GOP presidential primaries. He has also been a network congressional correspondent.

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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.

“Lee joined CNN from Politico in 2015 and has covered the #MeToo movement, the 2020 presidential election, the Biden administration and President Joe Biden’strips abroad,” Mediaite reported.

Priscilla Alvarez, who was covering the issue of immigration, has joined the CNN White House journalist crew as well.

“Some personal news: I’m joining the amazing CNN White House team. Can’t wait to get started. I’ll also continue to cover immigration, so keep sending tips my way,” she tweeted.

Alvarez joined CNN in 2019, coming over from The Atlantic, a far-left magazine.

While CNN continues to make changes to its program line-up and on-air staff, the network is still lagging far behind the cable news powerhouse, Fox News, and its personalities and hosts.

In particular, one of its newest hires, “Outnumbered” co-host Kayleigh McEneny, handily beats her cable news rivals in terms of viewership, and it’s not even close.

“Outnumbered’s 1.96 million total viewers far outpaced CNN and MSNBC, which brought in 638,000 and 685,000 viewers during the same time slot — respectively,” Mediaite reported on the numbers, adding that it’s “an impressive haul for a daytime show.”

“Outnumbered also far outperformed its competition in the key 25-54 age demographic, bringing in 256,000 demo viewers. CNN brought in 111,000 and MSNBC scored 83,000 demo viewers during the same hour,” the outlet’s report continued.

But McEnany’s show also outperformed all other shows on the rival networks, including some in primetime.

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