CNN Lays Off More Employees as Network Continues to Struggle

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
May 25, 2019 Updated: May 25, 2019

CNN has laid off more employees as the openly liberal network continues to struggle.

Most of the employees from CNN’s health unit were laid off, though Dr. Sanjay Gupta and correspondent Elizabeth Cohen survived the layoffs, reported TV Newser.

“As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” a spokesperson told the website.

Fox News, a rival of CNN, reported, “Staffers are shocked, as the health department is considered successful and CNN recently declared that no layoffs were imminent.”

On May 7, CNN executive vice president Allison Gollust told Fox News that rumors of “mass layoffs” were “crazy.”

The stage for the Republican presidential debate, hosted by CNN, at The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas
The stage for the Republican presidential debate, hosted by CNN, at The Venetian hotel in Las Vegas, Nev., on Dec. 15, 2015. (L.E. Baskow/AFP/Getty Images)

“There are no mass layoffs at CNN. I have no idea where that crazy rumor came from. We have recently offered a voluntary buyout option for employees, and just over 100 people voluntarily decided to take it. That’s it,” she said. “‎We have nearly 4,000 people at CNN … and around 100 of them exercised the option for a program that was offered. That’s it. Those are the facts.”

CNN became openly anti-President Donald Trump after he was elected and increasingly began supporting his opposition.

The health layoffs were confusing in that context, though. A prominent media figure told the openly conservative Daily Wire website that the Health Unit was “one of the few departments that wasn’t focused on anti-Trump stuff.”

The fresh layoffs came a few weeks after CNN axed more than 100 jobs. The network said the layoffs were buyouts and were voluntary.

Both CNN and MSNBC have seen ratings drop significantly since the submission of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report in March exonerated President Trump.

A recent ratings release showed that CNN’s ratings were down 26 percent from the previous year while the ratings among the coveted 25-54 age demographic were down 42 percent from the previous year.

The president routinely criticizes CNN, taking to Twitter on May 23 to highlight the dwindling ratings.

“Wow! CNN Ratings are WAY DOWN, record lows. People are getting tired of so many Fake Stories and Anti-Trump lies. Chris Cuomo was rewarded for lowest morning ratings with a prime time spot—which is failing badly and not helping the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon!” he wrote.

The buyouts earlier in May ignited fears in CNN that more action was coming, with one producer saying everyone believed that layoffs were looming.

“Everybody is bracing for a reorganization,” a longtime senior producer told The Hollywood Reporter. “There are all kinds of rumors about impending layoffs. Some think they will come this summer. Others say a big layoff won’t happen until after the election. All agree layoffs are coming, though.”

“We keep getting told no layoffs are pending,” another senior producer said. “But CNN routinely has layoffs, so I think everyone thinks it’s coming.”

The buyouts are accepted by some people because they think it’s their best shot at getting something on the way out the door, the first producer said.

“I think a lot of these people just feel like this is the best it’s going to get … and they’re not going to get a buyout offer that’s better than this one,” the longtime senior producer said. “Once you turn it down, you can be let go with far less. It’s a bird-in-hand, essentially.”

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.