UPDATED: CNN is dropping the latest iteration of CNN This Morning as part of a shake-up of its morning lineup.
Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly have anchored the show since August, after several lineup changes since its debut in the fall of 2022. Kasie Hunt’s 5 a.m. ET show, known as Early Start, will expand an hour and take on the CNN This Morning title.
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Changes will go into effect later this month.
CNN News Central, meanwhile, will move to 7 a.m. ET and run until 10 a.m. ET, with anchors John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner.
Jim Acosta, who has anchored a weekend show, will anchor CNN Newsroom at 10 a.m. ET and Pamela Brown will anchor an 11 a.m. ET hour starting in the spring. Wolf Blitzer will anchor the hour until she returns from maternity leave. Brown’s show will be called The Bulletin with Pamela Brown.
CNN Worldwide CEO Mark Thompson said the network is talking to Harlow and Mattingly about new roles at the network.
In a note to staffers, Thompson said that the changes mean that the network no longer will produce morning programming from New York, and that the team that produces CNN This Morning will be disbanded. He said that they can apply to other open roles at the network. All of the morning shows will be produced out of Atlanta.
“What we are announcing today is a change in strategic direction and not a reflection on the talent, expertise and dedication of the New York based editorial production and operations teams who’ve worked on our morning output – they’re among the best in the business,” Thompson wrote. (Read the full memo below.)
CNN This Morning was a signature feature of the plans of Thompson’s predecessor, Chris Licht. He teamed Harlow with Kaitlan Collins and Don Lemon, with a new New York studio and a focus on the chemistry and conversation between the three news personalities. But the show failed to make a ratings impact. Lemon was fired from the network in April, after he had seemingly survived the furor over an incident in which he had chatted about when women were “in their prime.” He later apologized. Collins was moved to the primetime lineup in June.
CNN This Morning averaged 326,000 viewers in January, as well as 87,000 on an HLN simulcast. That compares to 1.06 million for Fox News’ Fox & Friends and 1.01 million for MSNBC’s Morning Joe.
Thompson is retaining CNN News Central, another Licht programming move that streamlined the later morning and afternoon lineup to emphasize the urgency of breaking news and the latest from CNN correspondents. But by moving the AM edition of News Central earlier, the new CNN boss is making way for single-anchor centric news shows at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., even going back to the name Newsroom for a programming bloc.
Berman was co-anchor of the previous iteration of CNN’s morning show, New Day, and will be going back to his earlier time period.
Mattingly wrote on X/Twitter, “Learned a lot. Slept significantly less. Think the absolute world of our great and wonderfully talented team. Truly grateful for @PoppyHarlowCNN. Only regret is I couldn’t deliver a different outcome for them. More later, but meantime see y’all in bright & early in the AM.”
Thompson’s note to staffers is below:
February 5, 2024
I wanted to let the whole CNN family know about changes we informed our US cable morning programming team of earlier today, which will go into effect later this month.
We have decided to reshape how we approach mornings on domestic cable. First, we’re expanding the show currently known as Early Start by an hour so that in future it will run from 5-7am ET under the CNN This Morning brand. It will be anchored as now by Kasie Hunt in DC and will be produced in Atlanta.
Second, we’re moving our CNN News Central franchise with John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner up to 7am and will run it until 10am ET. This production team will continue to be based in Atlanta.
That move opens up two hours of new programming at 10am and 11am. Jim Acosta will anchor CNN Newsroom at 10am, and 11am will feature The Bulletin with Pamela Brown, which will launch in the spring. Wolf Blitzer will anchor the 11am hour in the interim while Pam is on maternity leave. Both of these shows will also be produced out of Atlanta.
These changes mean that we will no longer produce morning programming in New York and will be disbanding the team that currently produces CNN This Morning in that city. Our New York-based primetime and weekend programming will continue.
What we are announcing today is a change in strategic direction and not a reflection on the talent, expertise and dedication of the New York based editorial production and operations teams who’ve worked on our morning output – they’re among the best in the business. We will be strongly encouraging them to apply for the many new open roles that we are making available this week in Atlanta and Washington, DC, along with a number of other open roles in New York in other programming blocks. We are also talking to both Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly about new roles at CNN.
I’m very aware that today’s announcement means a great deal of uncertainty for many valued colleagues. Change and uncertainty are inevitable in an industry undergoing a revolution, but we must never underestimate the human consequences that come in their wake. So to everyone who has been involved in the New York based Early Start and CNN This Morning, thank you for your hard work and your total commitment to the show since its launch.
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