Michael Bass, CNN Programming Chief & Longtime Jeff Zucker Lieutenant, To Exit Network At End Of Year

Michael Bass, EVP of programming at CNN, is leaving the network at the end of the year.

News of his departure was shared with employees this morning by CNN CEO Chris Licht, who is in the midst of an extensive effort to reorganize and reorient the news network. A network rep confirmed the move to Deadline. (Read Licht’s memo to staff below.)

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Licht arrived in the top job soon after the close of WarnerMedia’s $43 billion merger with Discovery, with the combined company needing to cut cost and streamline in order to pay down its sizable debt. In addition to sorting out the headcount and budget of the retooled network, Licht is charting a different course than his predecessor, Jeff Zucker, who drove CNN’s leftward direction and frequent clashes with former President Donald Trump. Ratings have flagged since the inauguration of President Joe Biden and CNN has also faced a challenge in primetime since former host Chris Cuomo left under an ethical cloud.

Bass, along with fellow CNN veterans Amy Entelis and Ken Jautz, was named an interim co-head of CNN last February after the ouster of Zucker. The longtime WarnerMedia news and sports chief admitted he had not disclosed a consensual relationship with CNN marketing and communications exec Allison Gollust.

Dating back to Zucker’s tenure at NBC’s Today, Bass has been one of his key lieutenants. He joined CNN in 2013 after a stint at NBC in business development when Zucker was entertainment chief and then was on the staff of Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show, which Zucker produced.

Here is Licht’s full staff memo:

To my CNN colleagues,

I’m writing to let you know that Michael Bass has made the decision to leave CNN at the end of this year. Throughout his nearly decade-long run at this organization, Michael has demonstrated incredible leadership and perseverance. He has been a steady hand during some of the most turbulent times this network has faced.

Along with a brilliant and courageous team, Michael kept CNN live and on air as COVID-19 shut the world down. Never has CNN been more essential than those bleak days when people were struggling to understand the pandemic. And as a part of the “Trio,” Michael, Amy, and Ken guided CNN through a difficult transition period while simultaneously overseeing our exceptional coverage of the war in Ukraine.

As head of domestic programming, Michael helped create a number of new shows and overhaul legacy programs. His full list of accomplishments is too great to acknowledge in a single memo. But on the heels of the midterms, it’s worth noting that he oversaw coverage of elections, town halls and debates, and is the creator of CNN’s Key Race Alerts, which continue to distinguish our election coverage today. He also developed a number of special series such as RootsThe Person Who Changed My LifeChampions for Change, and the “Beyond the Call of Duty” franchise.

I wish Michael well in his future endeavors and thank him for his contributions, guidance, and friendship. We are launching a search for Michael’s replacement, and we will communicate an interim plan in the coming days.


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