CNN shakes up its morning program schedule

Poppy Harlow will be a co-anchor on a new CNN morning program.
Poppy Harlow will be a co-anchor on a new CNN morning program.
(Jeremy Freeman)

The sun is setting on “CNN This Morning.”

The morning show with Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly launched under previous CNN chief Chris Licht will have its last airing later this month.

The co-hosts will be replaced by Washington-based anchor Kasie Hunt, the current anchor of “Early Start.” Hunt’s shift will expand by an hour — running 5 to 7 a.m. Eastern — and take over the “CNN This Morning” name.

The three-hour morning edition of “CNN News Central,” with John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner, will start two hours earlier, sliding into the 7 to 10 a.m. Eastern slot.


Veteran anchor Jim Acosta will get a daily hour, “CNN Newsroom,” at 10 a.m. Eastern, followed by “The Bulletin With Pamela Brown,” a new program anchored by the network’s chief investigative correspondent.

Acosta, a weekend anchor in recent years, became well known on CNN for his aggressive questioning during the Trump White House years. His press credential was suspended in November 2018 after a particularly testy exchange with former President Trump. A judge restored his credential with a court order.

Jim Acosta will have a daily hour on CNN.
(Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images)

The changes mark the latest move by CNN to overhaul its programming lineup after a period of upheaval in the executive suite and declining ratings.

The programming changes — the first under CNN Chief Executive Mark Thompson, who took the reins this past fall — appear to be driven by cost savings as the New York staff of “CNN This Morning” will be eliminated, according to people familiar with the plan.

In an internal memo, Thompson said Harlow and Mattingly — who moved his family from Washington to New York after taking the host role in August — will be offered new roles at the network.


Star correspondent Sara Sidner joins “CNN News Central,” the network’s attempt to showcase its journalism bona fides to an influential audience.

April 4, 2023

“CNN This Morning” has been a troubled project since its debut in December 2022 with Harlow, Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins as co-hosts. Revamping the morning — never a strong time of day for CNN as it competes with broadcast network programs such as NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” — seemed an odd choice since the channel’s prime-time lineup needed more attention.

There was tension on the set as Lemon, used to working alone in prime time, clashed with his co-hosts and was forced to apologize when he said that Republican presidential contender Nikki Haley was “past her prime.” Lemon was fired from CNN in April, with the network paying out millions of dollars left on his contract.

Collins moved to a prime-time slot while Mattingly was moved from CNN’s Washington bureau to become Harlow’s co-host. But the program never gained traction in the ratings and remained the least-watched program on CNN.

Cable news has fared better in the mornings with personality-driven programs such as “Fox & Friends” on Fox News and “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s Beltway-driven coffee klatch with Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski and Willie Geist.

The shake-up comes as CNN has been trailing its cable news competitors in the ratings. In January, CNN’s average audience of 605,000 viewers ranked third behind Fox News (1.25 million) viewers) and MSNBC (1.1 million viewers), according to Nielsen data.

CNN ranks second behind Fox News in the 25-to-54 age group preferred by advertisers who buy time on cable news.