Why Chris Licht Canned Don Lemon Tonight and New Day

“Don Lemon Tonight” and “New Day” needed to go. So what did Chris Licht do? He mixed the 2.

Chris Licht made his first massive programming transfer at CNN with the announcement that Don Lemon will depart primetime (and his post-primetime hour) to anchor a brand new morning present with Poppy Harlow (who’s leaving 9 a.m.) and Kaitlan Collins. For many who mourn the lack of “Don Lemon Tonight,” right here’s the factor: It was failing.

“Chris is redeploying our expertise in methods he thinks make sense and can resonate,” a CNN spokesperson instructed IndieWire on Thursday. “This gained’t be the final.”

“Don Lemon Tonight” is in final place in viewers throughout CNN, Fox Information Channel, and MSNBC, in each hours. The primetime hour at 10 is down 42 % year-to-year in complete viewers and 48 % in the important thing information demographic of adults 25-54, in accordance with Nielsen. The 11 p.m. hour is down 35 % and 45 %, respectively. (MSNBC’s 10 p.m. program, “The Final Phrase with Lawrence O’Donnell,” does worse within the demo — however not total — than Lemon, as does subsequent program “eleventh Hour with Brian Williams.”)

CNN is concentrating on late November or early December for the swap, the spokesperson stated, at which level they hope (and anticipate) to have a alternative for the “Don Lemon Tonight” time slot(s). Whereas there may be “no particular timeline” for the brand new morning present to launch and for “Don Lemon Tonight” to finish, the 2 are anticipated to occur in live performance “most likely” in late fall.

So why make the struggling Lemon the principle face of your morning program? The speculation right here is his persona might shine extra within the sunshine — and boy, might CNN use the assistance throughout that day half too. “New Day,” which at present runs from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., will probably be no extra. It’s down 29 % to-date this yr in total viewers and down 38 % within the demo. Among the many information channel’s weekday-morning reveals, “New Day” is in final place outright.

“Fox and Pals” badly outperforms the morning-show competitors; equally, Laura Ingraham’s primetime present is much forward at 10 p.m. (and Greg Gutfeld slaughters the left-leaning channels at 11). Right here, one is perhaps tempted to justify CNN’s and MSNBC’s woes with the truth that having a Democratic president (these 2021 numbers embody the ultimate weeks of Donald Trump’s presidential time period), which tends to assist the conservative Fox Information and damage the liberal ones. Nonetheless, that doesn’t clarify a lot of the constructive Fox efficiency nor the detrimental performances of CNN and MSNBC — primarily each years had been Biden years, and neither contained a presidential election.

CANNES, FRANCE - JUNE 23: CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht in conversation with CNN Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward as part of Warner Bros. Discovery WBD at Cannes Lions 2022 on June 23, 2022 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Arnold Jerocki/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery)

CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht at Cannes Lions

Getty Pictures for Warner Bros. Di

Licht, who changed Jeff Zucker as head of CNN beneath the brand new Warner Bros. Discovery regime, goals to do one thing about the entire above. A part of his technique is to carry CNN again towards the middle, politically.

“There isn’t any stronger mixture of expertise than Don, Poppy, and Kaitlan to ship on our promise of a game-changing morning information program,” Licht stated in a media launch on Thursday. “They’re every uniquely clever, dependable and compelling; collectively they’ve a uncommon and palpable chemistry. Mixed with CNN’s sources and international newsgathering capabilities, we are going to provide a wise, daring and refreshing approach to begin the day.”

The morning present could have a “contemporary identify, format, and set,” CNN stated within the announcement. Present “New Day” anchors John Berman and Brianna Keilar will proceed on within the gig till the brand new program premieres; each will “assume new roles on the community later this yr.”

Lemon has been at CNN for 16 years and at 10 p.m. since 2014. Harlow is at present an anchor of “CNN Newsroom” from 11th of September a.m., however she’ll depart that task when the brand new one begins. Along with co-anchoring, Collins would be the new morning present’s chief correspondent.

“The final eight years have been an unbelievable journey. I’ve had the chance to work with among the best present groups within the enterprise, but it surely’s time to shake issues up. I’m so appreciative of the ‘Don Lemon Tonight’ crew, my great, loyal viewers and everybody who has believed in me,” Lemon stated in a press release on Thursday. “I used to be actually floored when Chris Licht requested me to do that and I’m honored by his perception in me. It’s going to be a thrill to tackle this problem with Poppy and Kaitlan. I’ll get to work with two of my dearest mates. Set your alarms of us, as a result of we’re going to have loads of enjoyable.”

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