We’ve been following along with the continuing drama at CNN including whose head might be on the chopping block to next get the ax as CEO Chris Licht tries to remake the network.
We’ve seen some folks get the boot for being irredeemable like Brian Stelter and John Harwood. Then Don Lemon was demoted from his primetime slot to the morning where he had to share the hosting job with Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins and he managed to commit some journalism while interviewing John Fetterman and Katie Hobbs.
Among the people who sources had indicated were likely to get moved around was Jake Tapper. Indeed, he did. He was moved from his afternoon slot to the primetime slot which had been occupied by Chris Cuomo but hasn’t been filled permanently since his ouster at the end of last year.
Tapper made his primetime debut on Oct. 11 with a splashy broadcast that included interviews with President Biden and movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Despite the big-named guests, “CNN Tonight with Jake Tapper” only averaged 854,000 viewers, which is a distant third behind Fox News’ “Hannity” with 2.6 million viewers and MSNBC’s “Alex Wagner Tonight” with 1.6 million viewers. Tapper’s audience substantially dipped since then.
Chris Licht, the new CNN honcho, reportedly wanted Tapper to be the “new face” of the network as the CEO has been vocal about his efforts to steer CNN towards nonpartisanship after years of hyper-liberal coverage during the Trump years.
While CNN’s announced the primetime lineup shuffle would be set at least through the midterms, Licht reportedly wanted Tapper to be in the 9pm ET time slot permanently.
But things didn’t go well. No small surprise because it’s Tapper. When you put out reports like this where you paint the story of crime as “Republicans pounce” rather than on the very real rise in crime, no one is going to take you seriously.
CNN's Jake Tapper: "The notion that violent crime is on the rise has left millions of Americans scared. And the GOP has tried to harness the power of that fear…" pic.twitter.com/PJgUvDKLNl
— Kevin Tober (@KevinTober94) November 2, 2022
In October, Tapper averaged only 691,000 viewers. Notably, his daytime program “The Lead,” which has been guest-hosted by other CNN anchors during his primetime stint, regularly had higher viewership than his 9 p.m show and averaged 839,000 viewers last month.
If Licht is looking at those numbers, that must have told him something about Jake Tapper — the nighttime show ratings dropped when he got there, while his own show’s ratings go up with other people subbing for him. It’s not rocket science to figure out what that means.
If he had intended on keeping Tapper there, that’s all done. He’s now getting booted back to the afternoon.
But they’re phrasing it as though it was always supposed to be a temporary thing.
“As part of a special lineup, Jake agreed to anchor the 9p hour through the midterm elections,” a spokesperson for CNN told Fox News Digital. “At the completion of that schedule, he’ll be returning to his award-winning program ‘The Lead.’ We will announce post-election plans for that time slot in the coming days.”
It couldn’t happen to a more deserving guy. But if they’re serious, the next move should be out the door. The numbers show other people can do better and then you don’t have to deal with the bias.
Finally, that move with Don Lemon to the morning show? Well, that’s not working out so well either, despite his recent foray into journalism.
However, Tuesday’s debut averaged just 387,000 total viewers, trailing behind Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” average of 1.5 million viewers and the 793,000 average for “Morning Joe.”
So Lemon might be out the door soon as well if those ratings don’t pick up.
All in all, the chickens are coming home to roost for these characters.