CNN boss Chris Licht knows his morning show ‘needs to improve’ regardless of past Don Lemon drama, sources say

“CNN This Morning” is Chris Licht’s first pet project since becoming head of the network in May 2022. But three months after its launch, Licht knows the show is “not in the right place.”

“He thinks he needs work,” a CNN insider said. “The show needs to improve.”

A CNN insider with intimate knowledge of Licht’s thinking said on the launch of “CNN This Morning” in November that Licht had warned his staff that “it might be difficult to get it right.” It will take a year” and that rating could drop. In the coming months before they get better.

So far this is exactly what has happened. In November, “CNN This Morning” had a weak debut, averaging 454,000 viewers for the month. In December, it only averaged 389,000 viewers, which dropped further to 373,000 average viewers in January, losing nearly 20 percent of its audience in the process.

“It’s not tight enough,” the source said. “It needs to be improved.”

Chris Licht admits his first major effort since becoming head of CNN last year, “CNN This Morning,” needs to be improved, sources say.
(Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery)

Eric Hall, who was executive producer of “CNN This Morning” when it launched, was removed from his role last month and reassigned to prime time. The Hollywood Reporter reported last week that Chris Russell, a current NewsNation producer who previously worked with Licht at CBS News, will take over the role.

A CNN spokesperson told THR that no offer had been made to Russell, but the insider believed whoever helmed “CNN This Morning” next would “certainly be someone from the outside.”

In recent days there has been uncertainty over whether the show’s trio Don Lemon, Caitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow are right for the job, especially after the on-set drama in December.

CNN’s Don Lemon ‘fired’ on co-host Caitlan Collins for ‘interrupting’ set during episode

A source who witnessed the incident said last week that during off-camera during the Dec. 8 broadcast, Lemmon “grossed” and “snapped” at his younger co-star Collins, accusing her of repeatedly putting him on the air. interrupts to do and leaves him “looking distraught”. Licht urged Lemon to “take the beat” and he wasn’t there the next day.

The December 8 incident was apparently at the height of tension. A CNN insider noted how in the weeks leading up to Lemon’s “dirty” moment, he had repeatedly cut off his female colleagues, suggesting that Collins was “more aggressive” in response that day. “were

“The show is having a hard time sharing,” the insider said. “He’s having a hard time sharing the spotlight.”

CNN’s Don Lemon “fired” his morning show co-star Caitlan Collins in December for “interrupting” him, a source who witnessed the incident said.
(Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CNN)

Lemon, who anchored CNN’s 10 p.m. ET time slot for years, was tapped by Licht in September to join Collins and Harlow in a revamped morning show that will replace Jeff Zucker’s longtime program “New Day.” will replace

At the time, Lemon repeatedly insisted that he was not being demoted despite losing his coveted solo gig in primetime, which had been churning out viewers for years.

CNN’s Don Lemon ‘on deployment’ amid leaks of on-air tension with co-host Caitlan Collins

Sources told Mediaite Friday that Lemon “remains a well-liked and professional host” within CNN, while Collins is “working to adjust to her new position as morning show host.” But another CNN insider said some voices are “doing damage control for Dawn.”

“He’s a dream. He’s so easy to work with,” the insider said of Collins. “That’s not the problem.”

“Let’s just say they don’t have the chemistry that TJ Holmes and Amy Robach have,” said a separate CNN insider, referring to ABC News’ recently ousted “GMA3” co-hosts. After the revelation of extramarital affairs of

Another insider said Lemon is “massively beloved” at the network and that reports of his inconsistent behavior that day were inconsistent with their experience.

CNN’s Don Lemon was absent from “CNN This Morning” on Friday after reports that he recently spoke with co-host Caitlan Collins.
(Shadrick Pelt/Getty Images)

Collins is widely viewed as a rising star at CNN coming off her tenure as the network’s White House correspondent.

Critics widely viewed Lemon’s departure from primetime as a step down for the CNN host, but insiders insisted that Lemon would ultimately benefit from the format change, saying that he now How is being “less polarizing” than he was giving his anti-GOP monologue five nights ago? Saturday, so he can focus more on “Capital J journalism,” like his recent reporting from Memphis amid the Tyr Nichols police brutality case.

CNN’s Don Lemmon-centered morning show has experienced three straight months of viewership declines

While the feud between Lemmon and Collins peaked in December, a CNN source stressed that it was “old news” and “nothing is happening anymore.” Lemon himself posted a photo on Instagram last week of himself at a Knicks game with Collins, Harlow and Licht, the day the New York Post published its story about the on-set incident.

“Don, Caitlan and Poppy were friends before they were co-anchors, and they’re still friends today,” a CNN spokesperson previously said.

Don Lemon previously clashed with his "CNN This Morning" co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Caitlan Collins in a debate over the pay disparity between male and female professional soccer players.

Don Lemon previously clashed with his “CNN This Morning” co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Caitlan Collins in a debate over the pay disparity between male and female professional soccer players.

Despite past workplace drama, Licht hasn’t lost faith in her morning show trio. “The ingredients are there,” the source said, highlighting how Harlow could lead business coverage, Collins could handle politics and Lemmon’s grasp of culture and social issues.

Expectations are high for Licht, whose resume includes launching MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and helping revive “CBS This Morning.”

But CNN insiders admit that its marquee morning show is still in a rough patch.

“I’m a newsperson and I prefer the news format. They seem to have gotten away from that,” said one. “But I trust Chris Licht to find the right formula. It’s just going to take time.”

CNN did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Fox News’ Brian Flood and David Rotz contributed to this story.

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