CNN anchor Jake Tapper is reportedly being relegated to his late-afternoon TV show after network executives promoted him to prime time just weeks ago.
What is the background?
After Warner Bros. Discovery acquired CNN this year, new management has been serious about transforming the network into a trusted news source.
The transition has included firing overly partisan personalities and shifting existing talent to new shows in an attempt to turn around the network's ratings, which for years have significantly trailed Fox News and MSNBC.
In late September, CNN announced that Tapper would move to the 9 p.m. time slot on Oct. 10. The last permanent host for that prime-time slot was Chris Cuomo.
What is happening now?
Tapper will return to his 4 p.m.–6 p.m. slot after the midterm elections.
In a statement, a CNN spokesperson told Semafor that Tapper's prime-time show was planned to end after the midterm elections.
"As part of a special lineup, Jake agreed to anchor the 9p hour through the midterm elections. At the completion of that schedule, he’ll be returning to his award-winning program The Lead. We will announce post-election plans for that time slot in the coming days," the representative said.
However, as Semafor noted, "There had been some speculation that the network’s lead Washington anchor could take over the slot permanently." After all, Tapper, who also anchors CNN's Sunday talk show, is one of the most well-liked personalities at the network.
Indeed, the Daily Beast reported that Tapper was a top candidate to take over the prime-time slot permanently, while Variety reported that executives had "settled" on Tapper as the new time slot host. The network had heavily promoted Tapper's move to prime time, which has featured several high-profile interviews, including with President Joe Biden and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
But Tapper's prime-time ratings have been less than optimal, often falling far behind his main competition, MSNBC's "Alex Wagner Tonight" and Fox News' "Hannity." In fact, Tapper has averaged fewer than 1 million viewers, Fox News noted.
By comparison, MSNBC averaged more than 1.5 million viewers during the same time slot, and Fox News averaged more 2.5 million viewers.
Meanwhile, more CNN employees are bracing for layoffs after CEO Chris Licht sent the company a memo promising "unsettling" changes in the coming weeks and months.