Don Lemon’s Most Liberal Moments: Don Lemon, CNN’s primetime anchor, is tasked with advancing the network in some of the most challenging TV news markets, according to the new president.
Since taking over the network’s reins earlier this year, Chris Licht has vowed to temper some of the more abrasive commentaries. Still, his recent morning news performances have raised some eyebrows.
In 2007, he started the long-lasting MSNBC brand “Morning Joe,” then in 2012, he helped CBS capture new morning momentum by creating “CBS This Morning.” Neither show was the most watched of its contemporaries.
Still, Licht increased viewership for the networks that supported him by having the anchors have more in-depth conversations and eschew some of the more frivolous aspects of the era, like cooking demonstrations or street interviews with bystanders.
Even while TV networks face new difficulties with their morning initiatives, he is now wagering he can accomplish the same for CNN. Although more people are turning to their smartphones before turning on the TV, mornings continue to be a financially rewarding time of day for everyone.
Jim Bell, a former executive producer of NBC’s “Today” and current head of strategy at NewsBreak, a local news and information platform, asserts that it is not going away.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey released on Tuesday, the percentage of Americans who frequently watch television to acquire their news has decreased from 40% in 2020 to 31% in 2022.
Licht thinks CNN’s new morning staff will attract viewers to the Warner Bros. Discovery news organization. Licht’s young tenure’s most incredible programming move will send Lemon, Poppy Harlow, and Kaitlan Collins to lead a redesigned morning format.
Collins will frequently be sent out to cover essential topics locally, while Lemon and Harlow can switch it up and concentrate on big headlines and popular culture. Two people with knowledge of the plans for the program say it will probably draw viewers in with prominent Warner Bros.
Properties include a guest appearance by HBO’s “Succession” cast or sports analysis from the TNT NBA crew. They also note that the plan has the support of Warner Bros. Discovery president David Zaslav.
The business of the news divisions that produce morning shows is frequently driven by them, particularly at NBC and ABC, where “Today” and “Good Morning America” are in constant competition for viewers and high-profile interviewees.
However, plenty of e-newsletters and social media headlines were available to the customers who once made it a routine to watch the shows their parents surveyed in the morning.
This has led to unexpected changes in some of the most well-liked shows, with ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “CBS Mornings” gaining viewers in the 25–54 age group, the group most desired by advertisers.
The current news cycle, full of heated politics and Trump-driven antics, has made it difficult for many morning shows to maintain the welcoming tone fundamental to their nature. In the months following an intense election year, when viewership tends to increase, advertising money has become more difficult to secure on cable.
In contrast, shows have recently narrowed sharply on politics. According to Kantar, a company that tracks ad expenditure, CNN’s “New Day” brought in around $35.1 million in advertising in 2021, a 34% decrease from 2020 when it brought in about $53.4 million.
In contrast, “Fox & Friends” on the Fox News Channel made $39.8 million in revenue in 2021, and “Morning Joe” on MSNBC made $33.1 million. The new CNN trio is the latest attempt by the news networks to create a successful morning formula.
The aim isn’t merely to provide headlines and heartwarming moments, according to top producers in the genre. You’re admitting these individuals into your house at your most exposed moment of the day—the morning—and you wouldn’t want anyone else there, yet you’re going to let them in, claims Bell.
CNN is prepared to take a chance to launch the new program. While Lemon’s current times (10 p.m. and 11 p.m.) don’t outperform those of Fox News or MSNBC, he has grown to become one of the network’s most well-known hosts. His morning shift will leave CNN scrambling to fill two hours of primetime (the network still hasn’t found a permanent replacement for Chris Cuomo’s 9 p.m. show).
Only Licht and a select group of lieutenants (including talent and development chief Amy Entelis, programming director Michael Bass. New development executive Ryan Kadro, and communications executives Matt Dornic and Kris Coratti) were aware of the new team’s existence at CNN.
So that Licht could plan their release, Licht issued warnings to the anchors and their agents not to reveal any information. Lemon had been chosen to anchor a live, weekly chat show for the now-canceled streaming platform CNN+.
The change will give him more space to explore the cultural themes he has long wished to do more with. According to reports, Harlow, who recently earned an extraordinary law degree from Yale and also wrote about business, is keen to shed light on issues and stories unrelated to the eastern or western U.S. seaboard.
Collins will also be able to continue reporting from the field, something she is believed to wish to do more of as a journalist. Collins has experienced a growing profile since joining CNN in 2017. Lemon, Collins, and Harlow might face difficulties in the future. Lemon will shrink from taking up the entire screen to just a third of it.
How will this new trio play in the sandbox after that? Bell queries. It always begins with excellent intentions and high aspirations, but mornings are a grind. You can get up early. Rating scrutiny is available. Which of my three anchors will do the interview that day? It’s up to you to pick. It can get challenging with time.
Even CNN’s best-laid morning plans have been known to shift. With the introduction of Chris Cuomo, Kate Bolduan, and Michaela Periera in 2013, the network debuted its current morning program, “New Day,” with former CNN president Jeff Zucker remarking that it “reminds me of when we put together the ‘Today’ show team in 1996, with Katie and Matt,” a reference to the dynamic duo of Katie Couric and Matt Lauer.
Zucker first came to public attention as one of NBC’s youngest top producers, in charge of the show “Today.”
Rashid Johnson is an artist, mentor, and a leader.@donlemon introduces you to his friend and 2022 Champion for Change.
— Don Lemon Tonight (@DonLemonTonight) September 21, 2022
Early in 2015, however, the show changed direction, moving Bolduan to a later time slot and pairing the outspoken Cuomo with former Fox News reporter Alisyn Camerota.
Despite John Berman and Brianna Keilar taking over the chairs at the show, the pair introduced a more aggressive attitude that became prevalent throughout the Trump administration and persisted to some extent. Both of those anchors will continue to work for CNN.
Morning fights frequently persist more extended than any particular soldier’s stint in the trenches, regardless of who starts the news day.
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