Former CNN chief executive Chris Licht was spotted at a swanky New York City restaurant on Wednesday, just hours after being fired from the network.
Licht, 51, was seen at The Polo Bar in Midtown with his similarly fired chief of staff, Devan Cayea, and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., according to Page Six.
On Wednesday, CNN pulled the plug on Licht’s tenure 16 months into his contract after a series of missteps and plunging ratings.
News of Licht’s night out spread through the struggling network, with one CNN staffer telling Page Six, “It’s gross.”
“He lit a network on fire for a year, left it in ruins, didn’t bother to send a goodbye note to the staff, and instead of saying he’s going to take a moment of reflection, he goes and hangs out at a sceney restaurant, all in an effort to make it look like he’s fine,” the employee said. “He’s learned nothing.”
Despite record ratings, network employees and liberals attacked Licht after CNN hosted a town hall with former President Donald Trump on May 10. Many of the newsroom’s leadership were reportedly enraged that Trump had been given a platform to speak.
An unflattering profile of Licht that came out last Friday in The Atlantic detailed the backlash for hosting the town hall with Trump and likely played a role in sealing his fate at the network.
Just two days ago, on the morning editorial call, Licht pledged to work to regain the trust of CNN employees. Ultimately, however, he couldn’t gain the support of many at the network who felt loyal to former CEO Jeff Zucker, who was forced to step down following the revelation of an inappropriate relationship with a work colleague.
Sources told Page Six that it was unclear if Licht dined with Pelosi or merely ran into her, but they apparently posed for pictures together either way, which were later posted on Instagram by Cayea.
David Zaslav, the CEO of CNN parent company Warner Bros. Discovery, shouldered the blame for Licht’s tenure at the network on Wednesday.
“For a number of reasons, things didn’t work and that’s unfortunate and ultimately that’s on me,” Zaslav said, according to the New York Post. “And I take full responsibility for that.”
Licht released a statement Wednesday night.
“This was an exciting but incredibly challenging assignment and I learned a lot over the past 13 months,” he said. “I’ve been lucky enough to have had a successful, fulfilling career and I look forward to my next chapter. I wish the team at CNN the very best, always.”
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