That Effort to Transform CNN Is Not Going Well

As we’ve written, CNN CEO Chris Licht has reportedly been trying to bring the network back to being a news network. He dumped some of the folks who behaved like Democratic operatives like Brian Stelter and John Harwood. He kept others like Don Lemon, giving him a chance by demoting him to a morning show. But Lemon and his producers couldn’t even get the countdown right on New Year’s Eve, which is just basic stuff.


Now, there’s further evidence it’s not going well.

CNN just notched its lowest ratings in nine years across all its day parts for the week of Jan. 16 through Jan. 22, 2023, according to Nielsen averaging just 444,000 viewers in primetime, 93,000 in the all-important age 25-54 news demographic and 417,000 in viewers and 80,000 in the demo for total day. It’s the first time since May 2014 that the network failed to reach 450,000 viewers.

In case that’s not clear, that’s pretty darn pitiful.

By comparison, during the same period Fox News drew 1.4 million viewers and 176,000 in the demo while MSNBC notched 629,000 total viewers and 69,000 in the demo. In primetime, Fox News had 2 million viewers, 256,000 in the demo and MSNBC had 943,000 viewers and 91,000 in the demo.

Indeed, as we noted, “The Five” drew a bigger audience than 7 hours of CNN programming on the same day.

Retooling the morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins hasn’t worked well. How bad is it going? “CNN This Morning” had its lowest week since its start, with just 331,000 viewers while “Fox & Friends” had almost a 1 million and “Morning Joe” had 760,000.

They’ve already transferred the executive producer of the morning show to a nighttime show.


Insiders also told TheWrap that even hosts Lemon, Harlow and Collins “seem to be growing frustrated” over the direction.

“The show can’t decide strategically what exactly it is, so it’s trying to be everything which can create whiplash for a viewer when segments seem off-brand in tonality,” one insider said. “The audience for morning news on network TV is different than the cable news audience and since we’re not gaining new viewers we definitely need to retain our legacy ones”

That may mean that Don Lemon isn’t long for the network if that doesn’t work out.

An insider also told The Wrap that the daytime changes being envisioned are likely to make matters worse.

Fake conservative Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin claims it’s because of the sucking up to the right.

But there’s a hole in that thought, as is generally the case with anything Rubin says, since CNN is getting beaten regularly by shows on Fox, and Fox is leading in all the ratings with virtually every show.


CNN isn’t talking but I think the problem is a simple one and I don’t think they can solve it. They killed their reputation as a news network long ago and all they have been subsisting on is the fumes of pushing the Democratic narrative. If you reduce the propaganda and try to turn to news, you lose the liberals, so there isn’t even that left.

But the problem is that the network can’t convince people to take them seriously after the way they prostituted themselves before Licht came in. They can’t remake themselves into a quality news network with the remnants of the narrative network they were, and Licht doesn’t seem to be willing to sweep out the remaining chaff, at least not yet.


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