CNN exploring primetime stand-up after Greg Gutfeld’s ratings breakthrough

The latest in a series of significant changes to the network under new CEO Chris Licht is that CNN is allegedly considering hiring a comedian to host one of its underperforming prime time hours.

According to people with knowledge of the situation, the yet-to-be-identified comedian would be responsible for taking over Chris Cuomo’s legendary 9 p.m. time slot.

Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, Arsenio Hall, and Jon Stewart are among the names that have apparently been offered by the brass at the renownedly progressive news network as contenders to provide an unorthodox, late-night perspective on the day’s events.

Greg Gutfeld’s late-night comedy show, Gutfeld!, has been a hit for Fox News.

The anticipated move would coincide with recent developments in the late-night industry and the failure of CNN executives, lead by Licht, to replace the void left by Cuomo, who lost his job more than a year ago after attempting to support his brother Andrew Cuomo in the wake of a sexual harassment controversy.

CNN mulling stand-up COMIC for primetime show after Fox News funnyman Greg Gutfeld smashed ratings

The move appears to be at odds with Licht’s previously stated intentions for the network since taking over at the beginning of last year, which included a departure from the opinionated reporting that grew increasingly common during Trump’s administration.

However, the showrunner, who formerly oversaw Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, made a suggestion that he wanted to sign Stewart in an interview with the New York Times last year.

The 60-year-old satirist, who is currently under contract with Apple, seems like an unlikely candidate, but the high ratings he brought to The Daily Show for 16 years have probably caught Licht’s attention. This is especially true when compared to the ratings generated by his successor Trevor Noah and other more divisive talking heads like Stephen Colbert and former Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee.

Speaking to The Times, Licht said that, if it were possible, he would love to hire the former late-night presenter. Licht let go of hundreds of employees last month, among them politics correspondent Chris Cillizza.

Maher is another, more hopeful candidate. A more straightforward progressive, he manages to appeal to a larger population than his more divisive colleagues.

The 66-year-old host of HBO’s long-running eponymous program, Maher, is currently overseeing it. HBO, like CNN, is now run by parent firm Warner Bros.

According to a Puck report from earlier this week, CNN executives are already in discussions to start airing some of Maher’s extra HBO segments on some of the station’s numerous media platforms.

Licht was hired last February with the challenging mission of increasing dwindling audience on the network. Licht was already experienced in using humor to increase viewership.

Nevertheless, ratings declines in late night programming have been pervasive, and many have blamed liberal talking points used by shows while they were live on television.

Jimmy Kimmel, Jimmy Fallon, and James Corden are among the offenders. These ardent progressives have all seen their ratings plummet recently, and virtually all have been accused at some point of serving as shills for the liberal media.

Furthermore, the popularity currently enjoyed by more conservative talkers, like Greg Gutfeld, has become even more striking due to the fast changing late-night entertainment scene.

Averaging 2.15 million viewers per episode, The Fox Show outperformed its liberal rivals Fallon, Corden, Colbert, and Noah in ratings last year.

The program, which began airing regularly in April 2021, is frequently criticized by the left and lauded by the right; yet, as liberals become weary of their favorite TV talkers’ political rants, programs like Gutfeld! have risen to the top of the stack in the competition for late-night dominance.

Showrunners removed Samantha Bee’s infamously neoliberal comedy show “Full Frontal” from TBS back in July after Bee, a former correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, struggled to draw in even 300,000 viewers to her program.

Then, in September, Trevor Noah, the woke comic who had taken over for Stewart after seven years, was fired from the show due to declining ratings.

Since taking over Stewart’s position on the formerly popular program, viewership has dropped precipitously; some claim the South African comedian’s hectoring soapbox tirades were to blame.

The show’s ratings were about 900,000 when Noah, 38, took over in 2015, but they have since dropped to under 400,000.

For comparison, throughout Stewart’s tenure, the average number of viewers per episode hovered around 1.5 million, occasionally reaching 2.5 million.

However, it’s difficult to find a monologue on Colbert, Kimmel, or Seth Meyers without talking about Trump, who has been out of office for almost two years.

Trevor Noah, Stewart's Daily show successor is also a possibility, the insiders said

Having said that, the infamously liberal Meyers, who took over the Late Night throne from David Letterman and later let down by Fallon in 2017, has struggled to reach the target viewership in recent years.

Letterman had an average of 2.5 million viewers in 1984. Today, Meyers has had difficulty even reaching the 800,000 viewer threshold.

According to reports, the situation at NBC is so bad that Meyers’ program might be moved to either the network’s floundering streaming service, Peacock, or to the infamously lefty MSNBC.

While this is going on, Corden has also been involved in his own problems and has had even lower ratings, falling short of the 800,000 mark as a result of criticism from other comedians like Ricky Gervais for plagiarizing their work.

The ratings phenomenon is largely the same on the other late-night shows, with only Colbert, Kimmel, and Fallon breaking the million threshold, placing them second, third, and fourth, respectively, behind Gutfeld.

According to the most recent Nielsen study, all are much below Gutfeldamazing !’s ratings harvest of 2.5 million views as of October.

Average audiences for the aforementioned shows all fell far short of those attained in recent years, and they have all been presented for a number of years by increasingly outspoken, left-leaning broadcasters.

And while these hosts continue to invite guests like Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez while using derogatory language, Fox’s Gutfeld has in the meantime become the King of late-night television.

This, along with Kimmel’s most recent admission about his ratings, seem to suggest that audiences want neutral, even unabashed content—something that the mainstream late shows have lost touch with.

Trump, who last month congratulated former talk show host David Gutfeld for his recent viewing figures while also taking credit for the ratings decline seen by Kimmel’s, Colbert’s, and Noah’s shows, has taken greater pleasure in the shifting landscape as these shows’ audiences continue to fall to record lows.

On his Truth Social Platform, the former president remarked of the failing comedies, “It was my great honor to have decimated the ratings of late-night ‘Comedy’ shows.”

The three hosts have virtually little talent, so there is nothing hilarious about the shows, he continued.

After that, CNN made an effort to shed its image as a “woke” media outlet. Licht, who oversaw Stephen Colbert’s Late Show for six years before it was revealed he would succeed Zucker, promised to restore the network’s credibility with the public by ending its smear campaigns against Republicans.

Several well-known and notably progressive hosts, such John Harwood and Brian Stelter, along with their programs, have been terminated as a result of the new movement.

Poor ratings have continued despite these efforts, which have been ongoing for more than a year, especially for the network’s critical evening slot.

When Licht took over as CEO at the beginning of the year, he informed the workers that changes were coming to the network that they might “not understand” or “enjoy.”

Like Don Lemon and Jim Acosta, Licht has worked to move hosts away from opinionated reporting, which increased during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and early years in office.

In an effort to bring the station back to its roots as a hard-hitting news source, Licht has overhauled the newsroom over the past eight months with a series of hiring, firing, and on-air shuffles. Left-wingers like ex-colleague Keith Olbermann and gun activist Sharron Watts have criticized Licht for these moves.

With regard to actions like removing Lemon from primetime and tapping Jake Tapper to temporarily take Chris Cuomo’s place, a disastrous experiment that lasted only a month, Licht, 51, responded to that displeasure.

Meanwhile, Licht has already come under fire for hiring people like Stephen Gutowski, the creator and editor of the weapons website The Reload, and replacing leftists like Lemon and Cuomo with more moderate personalities.

Licht appeared to be responding to criticism that has recently been leveled at him as a result of hiring individuals like Gutowski, such as Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, a grassroots group devoted to enacting increased public safety measures to reduce gun violence, particularly in schools.

Olbermann, a former employee of CNN, and a number of others have been outspoken in their opposition to Licht, even going so far as to call him a “TV fascist” in light of his aspirations to transform the faltering network.

In an interview with the Times, Licht, who also caused a stir by canceling Brian Stelter’s “Reliable Sources” in an effort to curb any partiality by on-air talent, claimed that his goal with his numerous moves is to provide a legitimate news source for both conservatives and liberals.

Nobody wants a shooting at a school, Licht added. But we need to comprehend the culture of gun enthusiasts. “This is not vanilla, centrist, or uninteresting,” he continued.

These remarks matched Licht’s declaration to the Financial Times in November that “one of the major fallacies about my perspective is that I want to be vanilla, that I want to be centrist.” That is complete BS.

“You must be captivating. You must possess edge. You frequently choose a side. You can’t always avoid raising uncomfortable issues, he continued.

But in either case, you don’t observe it from a left or right perspective.

Licht has repeatedly stated that he wants the network’s on-air talent to provide “a logical dialogue about difficult issues” and a version of news that bases controversial personalities like Trump “24/7.”

Since taking over, Licht has made a number of adjustments at CNN in an effort to bring the network back to its roots by producing incisive, impartial news free of punditry.

These actions have generated discussion both internally and outside, and he has stated that his vision for CNN is one in which journalism predominates over the punditry that permeates most of cable news.

In addition to the 9 p.m. shift last month, anchor Alisyn Camerota and legal analyst Laura Coates took over the 10 p.m.–12 a.m. time slot. Don Lemon had been transferred to lead a “reimagined” morning program with co-anchors Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins.

We will develop and build on that coverage by bringing in Alisyn and Laura’s views, expertise, and powerful voices, producing something complementary and appealing in primetime,’ Licht said of the choice, one of the biggest the CEO has made recently as part of his nonpartisan overhaul.

With his term already witnessing noticeable decreases in partisan panels, Licht has been adamant that staff move away from opinionated reporting that became notably apparent during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and subsequent presidency.

A few days before choosing Tapper, CNN announced the “reimagined” morning show with renowned progressive Lemon, another network mainstay in prime time and a well-known opponent of the Republican Party and former President Trump.

On October 7, Lemon’s 10 p.m.–midnight block was replaced by the new morning show as a result of the decision.

The John Berman and Brianna Keilar-hosted “New Day” show, which aired from 6 to 9 a.m., was replaced by the production.

When announcing the switch, Licht 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.”

They possess a remarkable and palpable chemistry and are incredibly intelligent, trustworthy, and compelling individuals. We will provide a shrewd, audacious, and novel approach to start the day when combined with CNN’s resources and worldwide news collecting capabilities.

Lemon joined CNN in 2006 and has been hosting his primetime hour since 2014.

The switch also necessitated additional adjustments to the network’s daytime schedule, as Camerota and Tapper, the hosts of the late-afternoon news show The Lead, lead news hours.

Anchors for New Day To make place for Lemon’s new morning show, John Berman and Brianna Keilar were relocated from the morning hours, and now they will each fill in during Tapper’s The Lead, which airs from 4-5pm.

The Situation Room, a long-running program on the network hosted by Wolf Blitzer, has been given an additional hour and will now begin at 5 p.m. to fill the void.

Only Anderson Cooper and fellow anchor Erin Burnett remain at their present shifts following the restructuring; however, CNN has announced that additional stand-in hosts will be announced in the coming weeks.

The announcements made last month were among Licht’s most notable ones during his “opinion-based” reform, which, according to sources, aims to tone down the anchors’ frequently contentious comments toward the GOP and their beliefs.

After being named Zucker’s successor, Licht released a message to his prospective team hinting at the adjustments that will be made in an effort to restore viewership that had sharply declined over the years due to the network’s personalities becoming more vocal about their political views.

At the time, Licht stated, “Our viewers want the truth from us, and I want to learn the truth from you.” Together, we’ll focus more on what’s working and swiftly do away with what isn’t.

As CNN adjusts to its recent merger with the Discovery Channel, Licht has stated that his one goal as president is to make sure the network “remains the global leader in news” – emphasizing the term “news” in capital letters.

Zucker resigned in February under criticism from network executives for failing to disclose a consensual relationship with Allison Gollust, his second-in-command and a friend and colleague of more than 20 years, and for doing so in violation of company rules.

In contrast, Gollust was abruptly fired from the network after a third party looked into “problems related with Chris Cuomo and former Governor Andrew Cuomo,” according to WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar.

Prior to the firms’ multibillion-dollar merger, John Malone, Discovery’s top shareholder and a wealthy businessman who contributed $250,000 to Trump’s inauguration in 2017, openly attacked CNN for its increasingly obvious left-leaning slant.

In addition, CNN founder Ted Turner is said to have ‘adamantly’ disagreed with Zucker’s choice to ‘transform CNN into an opinion network,’ which the billionaire claimed was made to compete with other partisan networks like Fox but had the unintended consequence of ‘losing the concept of hard reporting.

Turner’s biographer Porter Bibb stated last year, when Zucker was still in charge, that Turner and Malone appeared to have concurred on their dissatisfaction with the network’s current situation.

In addition to expressing his own views on what CNN should be doing as an all-news network, John Malone also represents Ted, according to Bibb.

Since then, Malone, 81, has been given credit for firing Zucker. Reportedly, the executive did so after learning of the former president’s liaison with Vice President Gollust.


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