Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins will anchor CNN’s new morning show, set to debut later this year with a new name, format and set.
The retooled show has been a top priority of CNN’s chairman and CEO Chris Licht, who started in May.
Lemon will end his nightly Don Lemon Tonight to host the new morning show. Harlow will switch from her 9 AM to 11 AM slot to join the show, and Collins, who has been the network’s chief White House correspondent, will serve as co-anchor and chief correspondent on the program. Collins will leave her role and move to New York, with more details on the White House team to be announced.
John Berman and Brianna Keilar, who have been anchoring the current show New Day, will take on new roles at the network, CNN said.
“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 in a statement. “They are each uniquely intelligent, reliable and compelling; together they have a rare and palpable chemistry. Combined with CNN’s resources and newsgathering capabilities, we will offer a smart, bold and refreshing way to start the day.”
Eric Hall will continue to produce the show along with others on the New Day team.
In a memo to employees, Licht wrote, “We spent considerable time looking at talent from both inside and outside the network, and in the end, we determined the very best trio was already here at CNN.”
Licht helped develop Morning Joe as its founding executive producer, making it an influential show to Beltway and New York insiders with a more casual yet newsier format than broadcast network morning shows. He then went on to bring some of those ideas to revitalize CBS’s This Morning, before departing to take the helm of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
CNN has been undergoing a series of changes in recent weeks, leading to speculation over the future of some its on-air personalities. Lemon, who has been anchoring his 10 PM ET primetime show since 2014, was a frequent target of allies of Donald Trump during his presidency, but he has more recently taken a major role in coverage of breaking news events, including the ceremonies for Queen Elizabeth this week in Edinburgh and London.
The exit of Lemon from CNN’s primetime lineup means that the network will have an even larger hole to fill, as it already has been featuring a rotating series of hosts at 9 PM ET with CNN Tonight, which replaced Chris Cuomo’s show after he was fired.
Last month, Licht tapped Ryan Kadro as senior vice president of content strategy and development, including the task of helping to revamp the morning show, which has trailed in the ratings compared to its cable news rivals. Kadro had succeeded Licht as executive producer of CBS This Morning
Licht’s memo to CNN employees is below:
To my CNN colleagues,
Big news today – I’m excited to announce the anchors for our reimagined morning show. Later this year, America will wake up to the strongest, smartest and boldest combination of talent on any network: Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. This is not an incremental change. Our morning news program will debut with a new name, new set, and a totally new format. The show will lean into the strength of CNN’s global brand, and I am confident America will soon see how genuine the chemistry is among these three remarkable anchors. The process to reach this point has been collaborative and deliberate, and it’s just the beginning. We spent considerable time looking at talent from both inside and outside the network, and in the end, we determined the very best trio was already here at CNN. I am thrilled Don, Poppy and Kaitlan see the vision and are up for the challenge in this very competitive space.
I realize today’s announcement will spark a number of questions. While I can’t address them all in one note, I’ll try to hit the big points.
Brianna Keilar and John Berman will continue to anchor New Day until the new show launches and will be given new assignments. I want to take this opportunity to thank the two of them for their commitment to New Day and to CNN — I am incredibly appreciative of their flexibility during this time, and I look forward to sharing news about their roles in the coming months.
Eric Hall and the New Day team will continue to produce the morning show. They will work closely with Michael Bass, Amy Entelis, Ryan Kadro, and others to make the transition and bring the new program to life. Don and Poppy will be leaving their shows, but their teams will remain in place. Kaitlan will leave her post at the White House and move to New York. Replacements, timing, and details around their current roles will be shared in the weeks ahead, including our plans for the 9-Midnight hours.
The next chapter of CNN is beginning to shape. I am sure there are many questions not answered in this note. We’ll be communicating as much as we can as we refine specifics and ensure this transition is a thorough and inclusive process.
I hope all of you share my excitement about today’s news. Don, Poppy, and Kaitlan represent the strength and talent of the people who make CNN the greatest news brand in the world. We are just getting started and there is a lot of hard work ahead, but if we stay focused and tune out the noise, we are uniquely positioned to meet this moment.
I’m honored to be on this journey with you.