CNN Majorly Shakes Up Its Lineup With First Overhaul Since Chris Licht's Departure

The network has announced new primetime shows for Abby Phillip and Laura Coates ahead of the 2024 election, in the biggest move from the interim leadership team yet. 
ATLANTA GEORGIA  NOVEMBER 17 An exterior view of the world headquarters for the Cable News Network  on November 17 2022...
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 17: An exterior view of the world headquarters for the Cable News Network (CNN) on November 17, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. CNN's CEO and Chairman, Chris Licht, has confirmed that the company will begin layoffs in early December. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)Brandon Bell/Getty Images

CNN rolled out significant new programming Monday for primetime, morning, dayside, and weekend, marking the first major changes to the schedule since CEO Chris Licht’s abrupt departure from the network earlier this year. Abby Phillip will be taking over the 10 PM hour with a new show out of New York, while Laura Coates will be anchoring the 11 PM hour with a new show out of DC. Notably, CNN’s primetime lineup will be nearly all women, as Kaitlan Collins debuted in the 9 PM time slot this summer. Anderson Cooper maintains his 8 PM seat.

Other changes include new weekend shows for CNN veteran Christiane Amanpour and Chris Wallace, and a shakeup in the morning, with Phil Mattingly joining Poppy Harlow as a co-anchor on CNN This Morning—until now, Harlow has been holding down the show on her own ever since Collins was moved to primetime and Don Lemon was fired—Kasie Hunt anchoring Early Start, and Pamela Brown anchoring a new show at 3 PM. Gayle King and Charles Barkley's limited series, King Charles, which was previously announced under Licht, is still set to debut later this fall. “One of CNN’s key differentiators is our deep roster of experienced journalists, reporters and storytellers. Many joined CNN early in their careers and have grown with the network throughout the years,” CNN Worldwide’s interim leadership team, Amy Entelis, David Leavy, Virginia Moseley, and Eric Sherling said in a statement. “By expanding the range and depth of our programming lineup across multiple dayparts, we are strengthening our reporting excellence throughout the schedule, elevating our ability to tell great stories across platforms, and doubling down on CNN’s position as the most trusted name in news.”

Elevating Phillip, who has emerged as a top talent since joining the network in 2017, is something of a no-brainer. After distinguishing herself as a 2020 election commentator, Phillip took the reins of Inside Politics Sunday in 2021; at 31, she is, as the New York Times put it, “Next-Gen CNN." Her continued elevation makes sense as CNN fights for better ratings and looks to appeal to a broader audience. There’d been previous talk of Coates anchoring the 11 PM hour, though the move seemed to be on hold as of this spring, with Insider reporting that “Coates was told the network couldn't staff a separate hour and that Alisyn Camerota, who anchors at 10 pm, would be extended for a second hour.” (Coates had been filling in for Camerota, who will now “focus on reporting for CNN’s long-form unit, specifically on forthcoming episodes for The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper,” CNN said in its press release.)

The moves show an empowered interim leadership team taking action— in contrast to Licht's operation. The former CEO, who left the network this spring following the network's disastrous Donald Trump town hall and a brutal Atlantic profile, struggled to figure out his prime-time headache. Licht announced the biggest move of his short-lived tenure at CNN—that Collins would fill the seat left vacant after Chris Cuomo's firing—just a few weeks before he stepped down from the organization. Collins, a star reporter, is apparently still trying to find an audience in the anchor chair. It’s still early days, but, per a Mediaite report, the show drew 564,000 viewers and 110,000 in the key 25-54 demo for the week of July 25—losing out to Fox News’ Hannity, which brought in more than quadruple that number (2,375,000 total and 206,000 in the demo), and to MSNBC’s Alex Wagner Tonight, which brought in 1,360,000 and 132,000 in the demo.