CNN on Monday announced a sweeping new lineup, elevating a new generation of rising stars to key time slots as it seeks to improve lackluster ratings and reboot its programming ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
The dramatic changes, which inject an added boost of diversity to the programming slate and will roll out in the coming weeks, are some of the most wide-ranging in the cable news landscape in years and represent a new chapter for CNN. The network has been aiming to reverse its fortunes after a tumultuous run under former chief executive Chris Licht, who was fired earlier this year after only a little more than a year on the job.
CNN said Abby Phillip, the current host of “Inside Politics Sunday” who has become an integral member of the network’s special political coverage in recent years, will anchor a 10 p.m. ET prime time program out of New York. At 11 p.m. ET, Laura Coates, the network’s recently promoted chief legal analyst, will helm a show from Washington.
CNN, which appointed Kaitlan Collins to the 9 p.m ET slot earlier this year, notably said that it still plans to debut a limited series at that hour in the fall with Gayle King and Charles Barkley.
In the morning hours, CNN named Phil Mattingly, who currently serves as its chief White House correspondent, as the co-anchor of “CNN This Morning” alongside Poppy Harlow. Harlow had been without permanent co-hosts since Collins departed for prime time and Don Lemon was fired in April.
CNN said Kasie Hunt, its chief national affairs analyst who was lured to the network to anchor a show on the now-shuttered CNN+ streaming service, will anchor “Early Start.” That show’s previous host, Christine Romans, exited CNN last month.
Later in the day, CNN added a new 3 p.m. ET show anchored by Pamela Brown, its chief investigative correspondent, slashing an hour off of the afternoon edition of “CNN News Central” to make room for the program.
Mainstay anchors Jake Tapper, Wolf Blitzer, Erin Burnett, and Anderson Cooper will continue hosting their current time slots.
CNN also announced that it will reimagine its weekend lineup in a significant bid to win viewers on Saturday mornings. The network said Victor Blackwell, co-host of the weekend edition of “CNN This Morning,” will anchor an additional program Saturday at 8 a.m. ET; Michael Smerconish will remain as the host at 9 a.m. ET; Chris Wallace will join at 10 a.m. ET with a politics-focused show; and Christiane Amanpour, chief international anchor, will debut a new program at 11 a.m ET.
On Sundays, Manu Raju, chief congressional correspondent, will take over for Phillip as host of “Inside Politics Sunday.” Alisyn Camerota, who anchored a temporary program in prime time after a long run in the mornings and afternoons, will focus on reporting for CNN’s long-form unit.
The dramatic changes are some of the most wide-ranging in the cable news landscape in years and represent a new chapter for CNN, which has been aiming to reverse its fortunes after a rocky run under former chief executive Chris Licht.
Licht, who was fired earlier this year after a little more than a year on the job, never committed to a consistent prime time lineup and left CNN’s overall slate of programming in an unsettled state. That contributed to a decline in staff morale and left a major opening for its rival MSNBC, which surpassed CNN in the ratings, including in the key advertiser-coveted 25-54 demographic.
CNN’s interim leadership team — made up of Amy Entelis, David Leavy, Virginia Moseley, and Eric Sherling — is hoping that the new lineup will boost ratings by breathing new life into the lineup in preparation for the 2024 presidential cycle. The team is making a not-so-subtle bet that its younger, up-and-coming talent are best suited to position the network for the future.
“One of CNN’s key differentiators is our deep roster of experienced journalists, reporters and storytellers,” CNN’s four-person leadership team said in a statement. “Many joined CNN early in their careers and have grown with the network throughout the years.”
The leadership team described the group of hosts as “extraordinarily talented” and said they “share the same CNN sensibility: versatility, determination and an inquisitive and empathetic approach to reporting the news.”
“By expanding the range and depth of our programming lineup across multiple dayparts, we are strengthening our reporting excellence throughout the schedule, elevating our ability to tell great stories across platforms, and doubling down on CNN’s position as the most trusted name in news,” they said.