CNN tapped Kaitlan Collins to host a new 9 p.m. weekday show, elevating her to one of the most coveted timeslots in cable news a week after she moderated a conflictive town hall with former President Donald J. Trump.
Ms. Collins’ new role was announced by CNN President Chris Licht on Wednesday, just before a presentation for advertisers in Midtown Manhattan hosted by Warner Bros. Discovery, CNN’s parent company.
His show, which is yet to be titled, will begin in June. “She is a smart and talented journalist who we have all seen hold lawmakers and newsmakers accountable,” Licht wrote in a newsroom memo. “Kaitlan will expose exposed angles and she will challenge conventional wisdom to make sure viewers see a story from all sides.”
The promotion of Ms. Collins, 31, co-host of the network’s morning show, amounts to a big gamble by CNN’s leadership on a rising star who has impressed her peers with her interviewing and reporting skills, but that has not yet been tested as a solo presenter. .
It’s also the latest attempt by Mr. Licht to revive his network’s low ratings.
The time of 9 p.m. Chris Cuomo was fired in December 2021. Mr. Licht’s recent attempt to fill the hour with a variety of interviews and special news dazzled with the spectators. On weekdays, CNN trails Fox News and MSNBC, and on Friday, two days after Trump’s town hall, it even lost out to Newsmax, a fledgling conservative network that is available in fewer homes.
Ms. Collins, who joined CNN in 2017 as a reporter covering the Trump White House, brings a youthful jolt to a programming block that for years has been hosted by middle-aged male anchors.
An Alabama native who got her start at conservative news site The Daily Caller, Collins is appreciated by Licht for her perceived ability to connect with viewers outside of coastal liberal enclaves. She became the network’s top White House correspondent in 2021 at age 28, the youngest person to hold the position, and covered President Biden before moving to New York last year as co-anchor of “CNN This Morning.” ”.
She is also well-respected in the political media and was scheduled to serve as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association beginning in 2024. (She had to step down after moving from Washington.)
In April, Ms. Collins served as a temporary host for CNN’s 9 pm show for a week. She earned favorable ratings, and executives noted that she was able to hold much of Anderson Cooper’s initial audience from 8 p.m.
Last week, she was in the national spotlight as the moderator of the New Hampshire town hall with Trump. Ms. Collins remained cool in the face of Mr. Trump’s barrage of falsehoods, repeatedly interrupting to correct unsubstantiated claims. Trump referred mostly to her and was applauded by some audience members when he mocked Collins as a “nasty person.”
“The election was not rigged, Mr. President,” Ms. Collins said in a representative exchange. “You can’t keep saying that all night.” (Mr. Trump kept saying it.)
The exact format of Ms. Collins’ 9 p.m. show has yet to be determined, but one idea mooted by CNN executives is to focus on one or two major news topics of the day, according to a person who requested anonymity for describe internal discussions. Licht has said that she wants CNN to feature more reporting and interviews, rather than speaking experts.
Ms Collins’ ascent comes after she sailed a tense situation on “CNN this morning.” Her co-host, Don Lemon, unsettled crew members last year when he confronted Ms. Collins backstage and accused her of interrupting him too often. The tensions led in part to Ms. Collins leaving her talent agent, who also worked with Mr. Lemon, and finding new representation. Mr. Lemon was later expelled by CNN after strong criticism of the sexist comments he made on the air.
Poppy Harlow, the remaining co-host of “CNN This Morning,” will remain with the show for now, Licht wrote Wednesday. Ms. Harlow will appear with a number of guest hosts until a permanent lineup is named.