Anchor Rob Nelson exits struggling cable channel NewsNation

Rob Nelson, right, is leaving NewsNation. Shown with him are, from left, Albert Ramon, Joe Donlon and Marni Hughes.
Rob Nelson, right, is leaving NewsNation. Shown with him are, from left, Albert Ramon, Joe Donlon and Marni Hughes.

Veteran news anchor Rob Nelson is leaving Nexstar Media Group’s NewsNation less than a year after the struggling cable news channel’s launch.

Nelson had been the anchor of “NewsNation Prime,” the nightly prime-time news program on the Chicago-based national channel. He joined the startup after stints at ABC’s New York station WABC-TV and ABC News.

“NewsNation Prime” has been cut from three hours a night to one hour, as the channel adds more host-driven topical talk programs to its lineup. Dan Abrams, longtime legal analyst for ABC News, is joining NewsNation next month on a recently launched show with Leland Vitter, a former Fox News correspondent.

NewsNation staffers were informed of Nelson’s departure in an email from Michael Corn, who recently joined the company after a long stint as a senior executive producer at ABC News.


Corn’s email said Nelson wants to “pursue other opportunities and we have decided to amicably depart ways.” A representative from Nexstar confirmed the departure of Nelson, who is the first of the major on-air hires to leave the operation.

Cable channel NewsNation, launched last year, is searching for a lane in the highly polarized news landscape but has struggled to gain traction.

April 28, 2021

NewsNation launched in September 2020 in an attempt to provide a neutral alternative to the opinion and commentary featured on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN in the evening hours.

But the channel, formerly the general entertainment outlet WGN America, has struggled to attract viewers with its format, which currently provides five hours of news programming a day.

There also has been high turnover among the top editorial executives, some of which is linked to the presence of Bill Shine, a former longtime top executive at Fox News. Some Nexstar insiders have been concerned that the channel will try to compete for the conservative viewers who watch Fox News.

Even with the slow start, Nexstar, the largest owner of TV stations in the U.S., is forging ahead to turn NewsNation into a full-time news operation. Along with the addition of Abrams, the channel is launching a three-hour morning program later this year with former ABC News correspondent Adrienne Bankert.