Michael Bass, who oversaw CNN’s programming over most of the last decade, is leaving the news network at the end of the year.
CNN Chief Executive Chris Licht told staffers Monday that Bass has decided to leave the network and said a search is underway for his replacement.
The exit of Bass is not a surprise; he was a close ally of CNN’s previous leader Jeff Zucker. Colleagues have said he wanted to leave when Zucker departed in February, but as a highly trusted figure internally who deeply understood the CNN operation, he was persuaded to stay.
Bass’ departure is bound to lead to speculation that other senior managers under the previous regime will leave as well.
CNN has been in a state of turmoil in recent months as pressure to reduce costs mounts at parent company Warner Bros. Discovery. The network’s chief previously announced cutbacks in programming and possible layoffs, as new ownership scrambles to reduce debt.
Bass is a veteran news executive who worked with Zucker at NBC News and on Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show. He followed Zucker to CNN in 2013 and became his top lieutenant.
The CNN Original Series with journalist Ling will begin its ninth and final season on Nov. 27. It’s the first programming casualty of the news channel’s cost reductions.
Bass oversaw live breaking news coverage, election nights and town hall-style presentations with candidates and political leaders. He was admired internally for providing stability within the network during uncertain times.
After Zucker was ousted earlier this year over having failed to disclose a relationship with his top aide, Alison Gollust, Bass took charge of CNN along with executive vice presidents Amy Entelis and Ken Jautz until Licht arrived in April.
Licht’s memo praised Bass for his tenure at CNN.
Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins will co-anchor ‘CNN This Morning,’ the first major programming change at the network under new boss Chris Licht.
“Michael kept CNN live and on air as COVID-19 shut the world down,” Licht said. “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.”
Inside the business of entertainment
The Wide Shot brings you news, analysis and insights on everything from streaming wars to production — and what it all means for the future.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.
Stephen Battaglio writes about television and the media business for the Los Angeles Times out of New York. His coverage of the television industry has appeared in TV Guide, the New York Daily News, the New York Times, Fortune, the Hollywood Reporter, Inside.com and Adweek. He is also the author of three books about television, including a biography of pioneer talk show host and producer David Susskind.
Subscribe for unlimited access