CNN President Chris Licht Makes First Major Hires In Attempt To Change Network

(Photo by Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery)

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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CNN President Chris Licht announced his first major hires Tuesday, including a former New York Police Department (NYPD) commissioner, amid his efforts to reform the network.

Licht hired John Miller, a former NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism, to serve as the Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst, the network announced in a press release. Miller previously had a career in journalism at CBS and ABC News, where he co-hosted ABC’s “20/20.”

Miller is known for landing an on-camera interview with Osama Bin Laden in 1998 while working at ABC News, the press release read. He earned two Peabody Awards, 11 Emmy Awards and an Alfred I during his career.

While working at the NYPD, Miller was involved in creating a new intelligence bureau unit known as “Racially and Ethnically Motivated Extremism (R.E.M.E),” primarily aimed at investigating and targeting terror from “far-right and neo-Nazi organizations,” the New York Times (NYT) reported in 2019.

The NYPD organized the group to resemble counterterrorism groups targeting Al-Qaida and the Islamic State, the NYT reported. (RELATED: NYPD Official Calls Terrorism ‘A Fact Of Life’)

“You can wait for that terrible thing that has a terrible impact on human life to happen in New York City,” Miller said in 2019. “Or you can look at those things that are happening in all those other places and say, ‘Let’s organize a more focused effort to detect and prevent that now.’”

Miller was accused of lying under oath in March for denying his department did any wrongdoing by spying on Muslim-Americans in the aftermath of 9/11, the New York Daily News reported. The former demographics unit gathered intelligence on Muslims by having law enforcement allegedly eavesdrop on mosques, restaurants, schools and other public locations.

Many Muslim New Yorkers called on Democratic New York Mayor Eric Adams to censure Miller and “hold [him] accountable” for the alleged surveillance, Politico reported.

CNN said its statement that Miller will add “a unique perspective as a seasoned journalist and decorated law enforcement official.” Licht celebrated the hire the statement.

“John will help deliver on CNN’s commitment to tackle complex issues while presenting audiences with independent, objective news and meaningful analysis across platforms,” Licht said, according to the press release. “As both a brilliant journalist and experienced, compelling subject matter expert, he brings to the network an incredible breadth of knowledge.”

Miller praised Licht and CNN in the statement, reacting to his new gig in the network’s press release.

“I’ve worked closely with Chris Licht and share his editorial vision: speed, but not at the expense of accuracy, passion but not at the expense of objectivity,” Miller said. “I am especially proud to join CNN at a time when covering the news, getting it right and delivering it in a straightforward way has never been more vital to the American public.”

Licht also announced the hiring of Dr. Tara Narula from CBS News, who will join the network as a medical correspondent, Politico reported.

Licht vowed to make major changes to the network after taking over in early May following the resignation of former CNN President Jeff Zucker in February. The new president has made an effort to provide non-partisan leanings in the network’s coverage at the behest of Liberty Media chairman John Malone, the largest shareholder of CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.

This effort led the CNN president to deliberate on the future of left-leaning anchors, including former anchor Brian Stelter and host Jim Acosta. Stelter departed the network in August after Licht informed him of the cancellation of his program, “Reliable Sources.” CNN White House correspondent John Harwood announced Friday that he was suddenly leaving the network.

The morning program, “New Day,” may reportedly be on the chopping block, Radar first reported. Several prominent anchors, including Brianna Keilar and Don Lemon, may reportedly depart the network or be reassigned to a different show.

Nicole Silverio

Follow Nicole Silverio on Twitter @NicoleMSilverio