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CNN suffering from layoffs, infighting, rankings woes one yr after ex-boss Jeff Zucker’s shock ousting

One yr in the past this week, all the workers at CNN was shaken by the sudden ousting of their chief and mentor Jeff Zucker, often known as a hands-on boss who had a serious affect within the community’s day-to-day programming. 

Zucker admitted he didn’t disclose his consensual relationship with Allison Gollust, a fellow prime CNN government, to their employer however their mother or father firm on the time, Warner Media, urged their largest sin was allegedly violating requirements and practices involving disgraced former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D., and his brother Chris Cuomo, who had been fired two months prior. Warner Media by no means publicly defined how Zucker violated requirements and practices, and the corporate has since been taken over by Warner Bros. Discovery following a long-planned merger. 

With out Zucker on the helm, CNN seems to be misplaced at sea, present process an identification disaster whereas additionally struggling to take care of a programming lineup and salvage its waning viewership. 


What was imagined to be an enduring a part of Zucker’s legacy at CNN was the launch of his pet undertaking CNN+, the streaming service that was years in growth and meant to bridge the cable information community to the digital age. 

Earlier than his ousting, Zucker lured high-profile expertise to host packages on CNN+ together with Chris Wallace, Kasie Hunt, Audie Cornish and left-wing personalities Rex Chapman, Jemele Hill and Eva Longoria.

Regardless of the $100 million that was reportedly spent in growth and the glitzy PR marketing campaign forward of its launch on March 29, 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery pulled the plug lower than 30 days later following dismal ends in subscriptions.

Days after Zucker’s exit, it was revealed that David Zaslav, the CEO of then-newly fashioned Warner Bros. Discovery, had tapped Chris Licht to guide CNN.

Licht, who got here into CNN after serving as government producer of “The Late Present with Stephen Colbert,” has an intensive background in TV information, launching MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and serving to revive “CBS This Morning.”

Since formally boarding in Might, Licht had been outspoken together with his mission to make CNN nonpartisan, a stark distinction to how Zucker ran the community, which turned #Resistance anti-Republican tv throughout the Trump period. 


Within the early months of Licht’s tenure at CNN, there was wild hypothesis as to who could be let go in order that the liberal community might flip over a brand new leaf. 

Most notably was the ousting of media correspondent Brian Stelter and the cancelation of “Dependable Sources.” Whereas Stelter’s rankings tanked through the years, he continued providing full-throated defenses for the legacy press and spent a lot of his time attacking former President Trump and conservative media. Stelter’s followers speculated that he was Licht’s “sacrificial lamb” to assist shed CNN’s status as a far-left community. 

Additionally proven the door was CNN’s longtime chief authorized analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who Zucker allowed again even after his Zoom masturbation scandal from 2020, and CNN White Home correspondent John Harwood, who barely troubled to cover his left-leaning political preferences.

In December, CNN was hit with large layoffs, with editor-at-large Chris Cillizza among the many extra outstanding figures to be dropped.

Correspondents Alison Kosik, Martin Savidge, Alex Discipline and Mary Ann Fox, vp of reports within the Northeast, have been additionally let go, in keeping with Selection. New Yorker workers author Susan Glasser and Politico columnist Jonathan Martin misplaced their CNN contributor offers, in keeping with Puck Information. Former U.S. lawyer Preet Bharara was additionally let go as a authorized analyst, per CNN’s “Dependable Sources” e-newsletter. 

Additionally reduce was the workers of HLN’s reside programming, which included “Morning Categorical” host Robin Meade.

Don Lemon, one of many few remaining family names at CNN regardless of his struggles within the rankings division, was moved from primetime’s “Don Lemon Tonight” to the brand new morning present dubbed “CNN This Morning.”

On the planet of tv information, a primetime program bearing the identify of the host is taken into account the best potential perch. On ABC and NBC, flagship morning exhibits would possibly reign supreme, however on this planet of cable, primetime has traditionally been king. Due to this, many felt Lemon was being demoted, forcing the liberal host to defend himself on-air as soon as the information broke. 

“I used to be offered with a chance that I simply can’t move up, at this community, and we have now a brand new boss who’s a morning present [expert]. And he desires a morning present that can kick off the editorial route of the community, each single day, and I’m honored that he requested me to do it,” Lemon informed viewers.

“He requested me and I stated sure. I might have stated no. That is my present, I’ve a contract for this present, I made a decision I might take him up on that and take this journey with him. This isn’t somebody transferring me,” Lemon continued. “I used to be not demoted. None of that. This is a chance. This can be a promotion.” 


“CNN This Morning,” an ensemble morning program that includes Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins, formally changed the long-struggling “New Day” on Nov. 1.

It was seen as an opportunity for Licht, who beforehand had morning present success at each MSNBC and CBS, and his longtime lieutenant Ryan Kadro, who as soon as succeeded Licht as government producer of “CBS This Morning,” to place their signature on the community’s early hours. 

In November, “CNN This Morning” averaged an underwhelming 454,000 complete viewers. The next month, it managed solely 389,000 in December. “CNN This Morning” then dropped to 373,000 common viewers in January, shedding 18% of November’s viewers. 

However rankings woes aren’t this system’s solely points.

Throughout CNN’s breaking information of Brittney Griner’s launch from Russia on Dec. 8, there have been a number of on-air cases the place Collins tried to interject whereas Lemon was talking. At one level, Lemon wagged his finger above the desk and informed her “stand by one second.”

Whereas off-air, nevertheless, 56-year-old Lemon obtained “nasty” at 30-year-old Collins, scolding her for interrupting him, which left the feminine co-host “visibly upset,” a supply who witnessed the trade informed Fox Information Digital. 

Phrase of the incident reached Licht, who urged Lemon to “take a beat,” the supply stated. 

Lemon didn’t seem on the Dec. 9 broadcast.

Lemon and Collins have performed good since, no less than in public, however it stays to be seen if the pairing will in the end work out for Licht and CNN. 


CNN has had main complications each in its daytime and primetime programming.

CNN’s 9 p.m. ET time slot has remained and not using a fulltime host or present since Chris Cuomo’s 2021 firing. “Cuomo Prime Time” was changed with numerous specials, extra Anderson Cooper, extra Don Lemon, and a short-lived experiment Jim Acosta. Not one of the choices resonated with viewers, and CNN managed solely 735,000 in 2022 for a staggering 45% year-to-year drop off throughout the crucial hour. 

CNN’s gaping gap in primetime solely obtained larger after Lemon was yanked from his two-hour time slot and shuffled to a brand new ensemble morning program. The media business has been baffled why CNN has not named a everlasting substitute at 9 p.m., which is extensively thought of some of the vital hours in cable information.

Licht tapped Jake Tapper to fill the 9 p.m. slot on no less than a short lived foundation within the remaining weeks main as much as the November midterms. Whereas CNN publicly insisted that Tapper’s transfer into primetime was by no means everlasting, Licht reportedly needed Tapper to be the “new face” of the community. Regardless of having President Biden and Hollywood icon Dwayne Johnson in his first broadcast, his stint in primetime was a rankings dud. Tapper has stated he took the gig quickly since Licht requested and had no intention of leaving his daytime present.

The community has been counting on Anderson Cooper to host a further hour to fill the void, however it hasn’t solved CNN’s viewership points. 

In January, CNN averaged solely 629,000 primetime viewers in comparison with a million for MSNBC and 1.9 million for Fox Information. 

Final month, CNN introduced a brand new daytime lineup that was rapidly chalked up as “an ongoing rearranging of the desk chair” by former CNN reporter Dylan Byers. The community primarily shifted round time slots and which anchors would work collectively, with out many any important additions. Longtime CNN anchors John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner would anchor the primary half of the day, with Brianna Keilar, Boris Sanchez and Jim Sciutto triple-teaming within the afternoon. “Inside Politics with John King” remained in its midday time slot breaking apart the brand new preparations.

As a part of the modifications, Jim Acosta was awarded a further hour on the weekends whereas Alisyn Camerota and Laura Coates have been chosen to “focus solely” on the 10 p.m. ET and 11 p.m. ET time slots the place they’ve been filling in. 

The modifications are anticipated to enter impact later this yr.


CNN had a dismal 2022 from a viewership perspective, hitting all-time lows in numerous classes regardless of a busy yr that noticed the whole lot from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to essential midterm elections. 

The community’s most-watched program was “Anderson Cooper 360,” which managed solely 868,000 common nightly viewers to complete No. 23 amongst cable information choices. Through the primetime hours of 8-11 p.m. ET, Fox Information averaged 2.three million viewers in comparison with 1.2 million for MSNBC and solely 722,000 for CNN.

Amongst complete day viewers, Fox Information averaged 1.5 million complete day viewers, an 11% improve in comparison with 2021 whereas CNN settled for under 565,000 common viewers to lose 27% of the earlier yr’s viewership. 

Whereas 2022 wasn’t notably optimistic for CNN, Licht’s defenders can level to widespread points that plagued the corporate effectively earlier than he took over. 


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