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Less Than Harlow

Phil Mattingly Poppy Harlow
Despite aggressive efforts by Mark Thompson's predecessors to compete in morning TV, the myriad iterations of CNN’s morning show have never matched the reach or influence of their rivals. Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CNN
Dylan Byers
February 7, 2024

On Monday, CNN chairman and C.E.O. Mark Thompson informed his staff, with signature British understatement, that he had “decided to reshape how we approach mornings on domestic cable.” This grand plan ostensibly amounted to little more than a musical-chairs-style reshuffling of his existing talent bench, but actually signaled a far more consequential investment thesis: Not only would Phil Mattingly and Poppy Harlow be vacating their roles as hosts of CNN This Morning, but CNN would be ending its decades-long investment in morning television entirely

Subtly implicit in the news was the fact that Thompson was done fucking around with a post-post-prime format. On his watch, there would be no more 6-to-9 a.m. roundtable show to compete with the likes of Morning Joe. Instead, CNN News Central, the network’s Dunder Mifflin-esque, HLN-style news digest, would start at 7 a.m., preceded by two hours of Kasie Hunt’s early early show, which will inherit the CNN This Morning title.