CNN has shaken up its struggling lineup once again, with Jim Acosta moving to weekdays and the New York-based morning production team being disbanded.
The long-troubled “CNN This Morning,” which was the brainchild of since-fired CEO Chris Licht, will now be hosted by Kasie Hunt at 5-7 a.m. ET, with current anchors Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly being pushed aside. CNN says Harlow and Mattingly are being considered for other roles at the network that “showcase their talents and work well for them.”
“CNN News Central,” anchored by John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner, will air in the 7-10 a.m. ET slot and Acosta will anchor at 10 a.m., followed by Pamela Brown at 11 a.m.
Acosta, who became known for his bombastic questions as the White House correspondent during the Trump administration, was pushed to a weekend anchoring gig when President Biden took office in 2021.
CNN CEO Mark Thompson announced the changes in a memo to staffers that was obtained by Fox News Digital. He announced the revamped lineup and then got into the logistics, which would mark a critical change in the network’s production.
“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,” Thompson wrote.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
Thompson then thanked people involved in the outgoing programs for their work.
In 2022, Don Lemon was pulled from his solo primetime gig to an ensemble morning show alongside co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. Their show, “CNN This Morning,” was supposed to lift the network out of the a.m. ratings basement but failed to resonate with viewers and quickly became tabloid fodder for drama both behind and in front of the camera. Since then, Lemon has been fired, Collins has shifted to primetime and Harlow is in her final days hosting the morning show.
CNN’s morning show has struggled to find an audience for years, and “New Day” being replaced by “CNN This Morning” didn’t help the situation. In 2024, CNN’s morning show is averaging only 322,000 total viewers – a 10% drop compared to last year. It’s CNN’s least-watched year during the morning show’s time period since at least 2013.
CNN has faced significant ratings issues for years. Fox News averaged 1.3 million total day viewers in January to finish No. 1 in all of basic cable, while CNN settled for an average audience of 463,000.
CNN’s most-watched program was “Anderson Cooper 360,” which averaged only 733,000 total viewers to finish No. 28 among cable news offerings. Despite being CNN’s biggest draw, “AC 360” had a smaller average audience than 14 Fox News programs and 13 shows on MSNBC.
The changes are expected to go into effect later this month.