CNN shake-up: Don Lemon moved from primetime to mornings, struggling 'New Day' to be replaced

'New Day' hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar will be shuffled to new CNN roles

CNN’s left-wing host Don Lemon will end his primetime show, "Don Lemon Tonight," and move to mornings later this year, the network announced Thursday. 

Lemon will join CNN hosts Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins on the "re-imagined" morning show that will replace the long-struggling "New Day." The move leaves CNN with a gaping hole in primetime, as "Cuomo Prime Time" still has not been replaced since its namesake host Chris Cuomo was fired last year. 

CNN’s left-wing primetime host Don Lemon will move to the mornings later this year.

CNN’s left-wing primetime host Don Lemon will move to the mornings later this year. (CNN Screenshot)

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John Berman and Brianna Keilar will continue to anchor "New Day" until the new program premieres and then will be given new roles at the network. Given Keilar's liberal leanings and the recent ousters of such partisan CNN figures as John Harwood and Brian Stelter, some observers thought Keilar would be shown the door as the network continues to revamp under new CEO Chris Licht, but it appears she's sticking around.

Details of Keilar’s next role were not made clear. She did not immediately respond to a request for comment. It is also unclear what Berman, who is beloved by rank-and-file CNN employees, will do next for the network. He regularly fills in for primetime hosts and is seen as a versatile anchor.

"I am excited for what comes next," Berman told Fox News Digital.

The move rids CNN of two programs that were known as staples of the network’s Jeff Zucker era but have failed to attract viewers. The fate of "New Day" had long been sealed. Licht, who replaced Zucker earlier this year following the long-planned merger that put CNN under the Warner Bros. Discovery umbrella, told advertisers in May that the struggling morning show would be "re-imagined" at some point. 

Brianna Keilar will continue to co-anchor CNN's "New Day" until the new program premieres.

Brianna Keilar will continue to co-anchor CNN's "New Day" until the new program premieres. (CNN)

Zucker, who was forced to resign in February after a series of scandals, rose to prominence overseeing NBC’s "Today" during the Matt Lauer era and quickly attempted to replicate the morning success at CNN.

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Zucker took over CNN in 2013 and launched "New Day" that June with hopes it would emerge as a flagship morning program similar to "Today," but with edginess that could only happen on cable. However, Zucker’s morning show success didn’t repeat itself and "New Day" has never managed to averaged even 700,000 viewers for a year.

"New Day" managed only 396,000 average viewers to rank as the 42nd most-watched cable news program during the news-heavy month of August. 

"Don Lemon Tonight" averaged only 660,000 viewers in August to rank No. 40 among cable news programs despite its cushy primetime slot. 

CEO Chris Licht wants to "tamp down spectacle" at CNN, according to a source close to him. 

CEO Chris Licht wants to "tamp down spectacle" at CNN, according to a source close to him.  (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Warner Bros. Discovery)

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CNN recently hired Ryan Kadro, a trusted Licht ally who was named senior vice president of content strategy, to help refurbish the morning show.

CNN’s new management is known to be attempting to shed the network’s liberal reputation that it earned during the Trump era, so the decision to move Lemon to the anticipated morning show and keep Keilar could certainly raise eyebrows. 

Lemon, considered a fan favorite by CNN devotees despite his trouble attracting an audience, has been an outspoken critic of Trump and other conservatives.

Harlow and Collins are seen as rising stars at the network and don’t come with the same partisan baggage as Lemon, while Keilar has developed a reputation for conducting combative interviews with conservatives while parroting liberal talking points.

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Last month, CNN canceled Stelter’s "Reliable Sources," a low-rated media show that regularly attacked non-liberal news outlets. Harwood and longtime CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin have also been pushed out in recent weeks.