Kaitlan Collins spent Wednesday night going toe to toe on live TV with a former U.S. President who refused to acknowledge her fact-checking of his many conspiracy theories and untruths, then berated her and talked over her. An attending crowd hooted and cheered. And that just may be a warm up.
Collins, the CNN up-and-comer who has gone from White House correspondent to morning anchor all before turning 35, is widely expected to be given new anchoring duties at 9 p.m., according to two people familiar with the matter. The hour is one of the most competitive on the cable-news schedule and has served as a home to some of the most popular hosts in the format, including Rachel Maddow, Sean Hannity and Chris Cuomo.
CNN declined to make executives available for comment. Puck previously reported the looming deal, which could be unveiled in days to come — barring unforeseen changes, or a pivot in the strategic thinking of CNN CEO Chris Licht, one of these people cautioned. Collins just wrapped a contentious town hall interview with former President Donald Trump, who used the occasion to spin conspiracy theories and press the notion that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
Collins’ stature at the Warner Bros. Discovery-backed network has grown in recent weeks, and she has been seen holding forth at 9 in what was likely a test of her screen presence and viewer reaction to it. The pivot is a quick one — Collins was just a few months ago paired with Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow as part of CNN’s morning program — and reflects the pressures CNN has come under after the January 6 insurrection.
The network has long ceded a lot of ground to its more partisan rivals, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, but its viewership has dropped off noticeably in recent months, spurring Licht, who took over as CEO about a year ago, to try a bevy of new formats and new on-air assignments. Some of them have not borne fruit. CNN ousted Lemon just last month after the anchor’s outspoken style caused friction with his co-hosts and caused issues behind the scenes. If Collins does leave the morning program, Harlow, the last of the trio to stay with the hour, might be paired with other internal candidates, says one of the people familiar with the situation.
(Excerpt) Read more in: Variety