Liberal CNN anchor Jake Tapper is being tapped out of primetime and moving back to daytime following poor viewership.

“As part of a special lineup, Jake agreed to anchor the 9 pm hour through the midterm elections,” a spokesperson for CNN told Fox News Digital. “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.”

Tapper made his primetime debut on Oct. 11 with a splashy broadcast that included interviews with President Biden and movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Despite the big-named guests, “CNN Tonight with Jake Tapper” only averaged 854,000 viewers, which is a distant third behind Fox News’ “Hannity” with 2.6 million viewers and MSNBC’s “Alex Wagner Tonight” with 1.6 million viewers. Tapper’s audience substantially dipped since then.

Chris Licht, the new CNN honcho, reportedly wanted Tapper to be the “new face” of the network as the CEO has been vocal about his efforts to steer CNN towards nonpartisanship after years of hyper-liberal coverage during the Trump years. 

In October, Jake Tapper averaged only 691,000 viewers.

While CNN’s announced the primetime lineup shuffle would be set at least through the midterms, Licht reportedly wanted Tapper to be in the 9 pm ET time slot permanently. The time slot has been vacant ever since the December 2021 ousting of Chris Cuomo

In October, Tapper averaged only 691,000 viewers. Notably, his daytime program “The Lead,” which has been guest-hosted by other CNN anchors during his primetime stint, regularly had higher viewership than his 9 p.m. show and averaged 839,000 viewers last month.

Semafor was first to report that Tapper was returning to daytime. 

While Tapper was never as bombastic as his colleagues like Don Lemon and Brianna Keilar, but he was arguably just as partisan and maintained his GOP bashing in primetime. 

“Unhinged lies born from Donald Trump’s grievance that he lost and his refusal to accept reality… this anti-democracy insanity — it has already infiltrated the same halls of Capitol Hill where the rioters once stood … all of this leaves you, the voter, in sort of an impossible position. You should be able to walk into that voting booth and vote on issues that affect your life like the economy or crime or education or health care,” Tapper said in his second primetime broadcast while lambasting “election deniers” running for office. 

“But now, in too many races, instead of asking yourself, ‘What can this candidate do for me and my community and my children in the next two years?’ You now also have to ask, ‘Hey, does this candidate believe in democracy?’”

Joe Biden speaks with Jake Tapper
Joe Biden speaks with Jake Tapper last month.

Many of his segments were focused on former President Trump, Jan. 6, and so-called GOP “election deniers,” who Tapper long prided himself from banning on his CNN programs despite having welcomed Democrats like Stacey Abrams.

CNN appears to also be struggling in the mornings. Licht was hoping to revive the network’s early programming with “CNN This Morning” after successfully launching “Morning Joe” on MSNBC and reviving “CBS This Morning” as its executive producer. 

However, Tuesday’s debut averaged just 387,000 total viewers, trailing behind Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” average of 1.5 million viewers and the 793,000 average for “Morning Joe.” 

“CNN This Morning” is co-hosted by Poppy Harlow, Kaitlan Collins and Don Lemon, who continues to insist the gig is not a demotion despite him previously having his own show in primetime.


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Tyler Cowan