Effectively, “CNN This Morning,” an entity created by predecessor Chris Licht, is disbanding. Current hosts Poppy Harlow and Phil Mattingly are departing “CNN This Morning” and will have new roles. Licht’s effort to create a more casual feel for CNN’s mornings didn’t stick and Thompson will keep the time frame more news oriented.
CNN in recent years has struggled to find a winning formula in the mornings, which has featured a raft of different hosts. Licht’s effort with Harlow, Kaitlan Collins and Don Lemon in late 2022 and early 2023 was short lived and Lemon was let go last year after insensitive statements about women that didn’t go over with his colleagues. After Licht was fired, Collins was moved to evenings and Harlo was paired with Mattingly.
The current edition of CNN’s morning show is averaging just 322,000 viewers year to date, according to Nielsen estimates, down from 359,000 last year. This is far behind MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” (988,000) and Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” (1,068,000).
The changes include s shift of existing talent. Kasie Hunt, who will be based out of D.C., will add an extra hour and anchor from 5-7 a.m. Her show will be produced in Atlanta.
The “CNN News Central” show hosted by John Berman, Kate Bolduan and Sara Sidner, which had been airing from 10 a.m. to noon, will move up to 7 a.m. and run until 10 a.m. EST. Their production team will continue to be based in Atlanta. The trio of on-air hosts will remain in New York City.
Jim Acosta, who works out of D.C., will anchor “CNN Newsroom” at 10 a.m. and Pamela Brown, also based out of D.C., will take over the 11 a.m. slot later in the spring once her maternity leave is over. Both of these shows will be produced out of Atlanta.
A spokeswoman said the shifts will add dozens of new jobs in Atlanta.
Many of the changes will go into effect later this month.
Over the past year, CNN has been steadily moving its production in Atlanta from CNN Center in downtown to Midtown offices off I-85, but it’s unclear when the operation will be entirely out of CNN Center. CNN has been there since 1987 and turned it into a major tourist attraction in its heyday.
AT&T, the previous owner of CNN, sold CNN Center in 2021 to Florida investors, who plan to revamp the space. CP Group, which is operating CNN Center, recently placed 1,150,000 square feet of office space for lease on its website.
For the first 25 years of CNN, most on-air hosts worked out of Atlanta, where Ted Turner founded the network. But over the past 20 years, more production moved to New York City. In 2014, on-air hosts Brooke Baldwin and Carol Costello were relocated to Manhattan offices from Atlanta studios, meaning all weekday hosts were either in New York or Washington, D.C. (Costello left CNN in 2018; Baldwin departed in 2021.)
Two Atlanta based hosts, Fredricka Whitfield and Victor Blackwell, are currently still working out of studios at CNN Center.