Michael Bass, a top programming executive at CNN, is leaving the outlet, CEO Chris Licht confirmed on Monday.
“Throughout his nearly decade-long run at this organization, Michael has demonstrated incredible leadership and perseverance,” Licht said in a memo sent to employees of the network. “He has been a steady hand during some of the most turbulent times this network has faced.”
Licht said Bass, who served as CNN’s executive vice president of programming, made the decision to leave and that a search for his replacement is underway.
“Along with a brilliant and courageous team, Michael kept CNN live and on air as COVID-19 shut the world down,” the network’s top boss said of Bass.
Bass is set to leave the network by the end of the year, according to multiple reports.
The executive’s announced departure follows a slew of major personnel and programming changes Licht has overseen at CNN since taking over as president earlier this year under the newly formed media conglomerate Warner Bros. Discovery.
Among the changes Licht has implemented have been the revamping of CNN’s morning news show and the cancellation of its long-running Sunday media affairs program. The moves also come during a time of sluggish ratings for CNN and across cable news more generally since former President Trump left office.
In a recent wide-ranging interview with the journalist Kara Swisher, Licht said he did not want producers, talent and showrunners underneath him to be focused on ratings but rather on executing their jobs in line with his vision of a more sober, fact-based CNN than the model of the company under his predecessor, Jeff Zucker.
“I don’t, do not, want someone who’s producing an hour of television on CNN saying, ‘You know what? I could lead with this or I could lead with that. I’m going to lead with that because it’ll get a better number.’ I want people leading and stacking their shows in a way based on journalism and what’s important,” Licht said during the interview. “Let me worry about the ratings. Chase stories, not ratings.”
The latest shakeup in CNN’s senior leadership also comes as Licht has been charged with implementing a series of cuts and layoffs at the network, expected to take place next month.