On Thursday morning CNN announced that it is moving primetime anchor, Don Lemon, to a new morning show, that he will co-anchor along with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. It’s the latest in a series of programming changes by the network’s new CEO, Chris Licht.
The move out of primetime for Lemon may look on the surface like a demotion. However, mornings are one the biggest revenue generating time periods in television news and it gives Lemon three hours daily instead of two. So it’s hard to assess whether there was any intention on the part of Licht to suppress Lemon’s generally liberal-leaning views. The test will come when we see his presentations in the new morning lineup, and when Licht announces who gets the now vacant primetime slot. Licht also still has an open slot where Chris Cuomo used to air.
For his part, Lemon celebrated the change saying that it was “time to shake things up,” and that he was “honored by [Licht’s] belief in me.” CNN’s announcement stated that…
“The network on Thursday unveiled a new marquee morning program that will debut later this year, anchored by stars Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins. […] In recent weeks, Licht has started to put his stamp on the network’s programming, with the announcement of the new morning show his most significant move to date.”
Nevertheless, partisans on both sides are staking out positions on the move. Keith Olbermann addressed it with the benefit of his personal past experience at MSNBC with Licht…
“Chris Licht (who, when we worked together at msnbc, I believed used to eat paste) has now surrounded Don Lemon with an ex-Daily Caller “journalist” and somebody who last month demanded an apology from Biden to Republicans.”
Chris Licht (who, when we worked together at msnbc, I believed used to eat paste) has now surrounded Don Lemon with an ex-Daily Caller "journalist" and somebody who last month demanded an apology from Biden to Republicans.
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) September 15, 2022
On the other side, Sean Hannity of Fox News weighed in with his customary lack of any beneficial experience (also misspelling the name of “Christ” Licht}, saying that…
“LEMON LOSES PRIMETIME: Don Downgraded to Morning Show Slot”
LEMON LOSES PRIMETIME: Don Downgraded to Morning Show Slot https://t.co/mfHDoC5V7x
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) September 15, 2022
CNN recently merged with Discovery Networks, which has a notably conservative executive team and board of directors. When Licht was hired to run the network it seemed like a positive choice considering that he was previously the producer of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” But that may have been a premature assessment.
Licht almost immediately began making statements about how he is more interested in cutting back on news analysis in favor of just presenting a dryer, context-free brand of straight news. And his first programming decision was to cancel Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources.”
If CNN’s new management thinks that striving for some form of artificial neutrality is going to garner them more ratings or respect, they will be sadly mistaken. The right is going to demonize them no matter what they say. They have the “CNN = Communist News Network” baked in. And Donald Trump has already started lying about what’s going on at the network:
There could be pluses and minuses about this program change. Lemon has a strong following and could provide some serious competition for Fox and Friends and Morning Joe on MSNBC. But how the primetime hours will be filled is going to tell us more about the direction CNN is headed. If Jim Acosta moves into the timeslot, there may yet still be hope. If it’s Chris Wallace, not so much.
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