The staff shake-ups continue at CNN under the leadership of its new CEO, Chris Licht.
After parting ways with a handful of prominent reporters and on-air personalities, the cable news network announced this week that Don Lemon will no longer be hosting the primetime program he has helmed for the past eight years.
According to reports, he will take on a new role as one of three hosts of CNN’s retooled morning programming. Although Lemon’s viewership spiked during the Trump administration, ratings plummeted in the months following President Joe Biden’s inauguration last year.
Viewers fled the left-leaning network in droves after former President Donald Trump left office, prompting Licht to usher in a move toward the political center in an apparent bid to attract a wider audience. Part of that shift includes moving Lemon to mornings alongside co-hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.
“There is no stronger combination of talent than Don, Poppy, and Kaitlan to deliver on our promise of a game-changing morning news program,” Licht said.
While the move was widely interpreted as a demotion, Lemon sought to put a positive spin on the news in his announcement.
After acknowledging the “incredible ride” that his career has been on since the launch of “Don Lemon Tonight,” he said that it was “time to shake things up” by moving to a morning slot.
“I was honestly floored when Chris Licht asked me to do this and I’m honored by his belief in me,” Lemon continued. “It’s going to be a thrill to take on this challenge with Poppy and Kaitlan. I’ll get to work with two of my dearest friends.”
During his program on Thursday, he addressed the prevailing rumors even more directly, asserting: “I was not demoted. None of that. This is an opportunity for me to create something around me and I get to work with two great ladies, who you know.”
For Collins, the new role appears to be a promotion from her current position as an on-air correspondent.
“To go from sharing my reporting on their shows to sitting at the desk alongside them is an incredible opportunity and I’m deeply humbled by it,” she said. “I’m so grateful to Chris and CNN for building something truly special.”
A number of Licht’s critics saw the programming change as further evidence that he is pushing the network to the right.
Chris Licht (who, when we worked together at msnbc, I believed used to eat paste) has now surrounded Don Lemon with an ex-Daily Caller "journalist" and somebody who last month demanded an apology from Biden to Republicans.
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) September 15, 2022
Co-hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar currently helm the network’s “New Day” program and are expected to remain in their respective roles until the revamped show premieres, at which time they will receive new assignments.