Jake Tapper moves to prime time for CNN

CNN Chairman Chris Licht is putting his stamp on the news channel’s prime-time programming.

The network will announce today that Jake Tapper will transition to the 9 p.m. Eastern Hour beginning October 10 and during the midterm elections to capitalize on interest in the fight for control of Congress.

The assignment is temporary, although Tapper would presumably stay in the time slot if the hour is well received by audiences. In an interview with The Times, Licht said his immediate goal is to create stability for audiences while he contemplates lasting change.

“Right now I want to have a solid strategy by half-time, which is our bread and butter,” Licht said.

CNN’s 9 p.m. hour has been using rotating hosts since Chris Cuomo was fired in December. Cuomo, who was fired for his involvement in advising his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will be getting a new show every hour on cable network NewsNation starting October 5.

Part of the thinking behind Licht’s move is to attract some West Coast viewers who may be watching the TV station’s evening newscasts, as Tapper will air at 6 p.m. Pacific time. Tapper currently hosts The Lead, a Beltway-centric news program that airs in the afternoon.

Tapper’s reputation as a straight-forward political news anchor rather than a partisan commentator will make the hour an alternative to the opinion-oriented shows on Fox News, which Sean Hannity airs on the hour, and MSNBC, which has Rachel Maddow and Alex Wagner.

After being hired for the top job at CNN in April, Licht said he wanted to change the channel’s perception of being too far left politically. The proclamation — made in response to research and anecdotal evidence showing viewers’ trust in CNN has plummeted — led some columnists and critics on social media to believe the network was chasing conservative viewers, the Fox News see.

A woman poses in a red velvet suit

Legal analyst Laura Coates (above) will take over “CNN Tonight” at 10 p.m. with current afternoon anchor Alisyn Camerota.

(Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Sony Pictures)

Some cited Sunday morning’s cancellation of media criticism show Reliable Sources and the termination of its host Brian Stelter, who had become a fierce critic of former President Trump, as evidence the network was pivoting to the right.

These claims are undermined by prolonged surveillance of CNN as its journalists continue to aggressively report on the legal issues Trump is facing. Republican lawmakers continue to get tough questions when they appear on the network. However, brief clips on social media — sometimes with the hashtag #BoycottCNN — add to the narrative that a shift is afoot on the network.

Licht denied that there is a shift in political views aimed at attracting right-wing viewers.

“We do this with a mission, which is to make CNN a place for people to turn to for the truth,” Licht said. “But if people don’t believe it, it’s like a tree falling in the forest without anyone hearing. So all I do is restore CNN’s perception of the world as an unbiased dealer of truth. And it has nothing to do with left or right.”

CNN is also changing anchors on “CNN Tonight,” the 10 p.m. show hosted by Don Lemon. Legal analyst Laura Coates and current afternoon presenter Alisyn Camerota will take over the two-hour programme, although it has not yet been decided whether they will appear together or in separate hours. This step should also last until the midterm elections.

Lemon’s last appearance on “CNN Tonight” will be on October 7, when he joins Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins for a new CNN morning show. No date has yet been set for the debut of the new program.

Current CNN morning anchors John Berman and Brianna Keilar will be filling in on The Lead.

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2022-09-22/jake-tapper-moves-to-prime-time-for-cnn-through-the-midterm-elections Jake Tapper moves to prime time for CNN

Sarah Ridley

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