Licht After Dark

cnn's chris licht
Is CNN chairman and C.E.O. Chris Licht actually trying to fill the 9 to 11 p.m. hour with a “news entertainment” personality, or is the surrounding chatter all spin? Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images for CNN
Dylan Byers
January 18, 2023

Back in September, just before CNN chairman and C.E.O. Chris Licht formally announced that he’d be giving Jake Tapper a trial run in primetime, a high-level CNN source sought to assure me that Licht had other tricks up his sleeve if the Tapper experiment didn’t pan out. Licht certainly hoped Tapper would become the permanent anchor at 9 p.m., a marquee hour that had been effectively vacant since Licht took over the network in May. But he was also aware that Tapper had reservations about primetime, and that his professorial disposition might not prove to be a natural fit for cable’s more personality-driven hours—as would indeed turn out to be the case.

So, what other ideas was Licht kicking around, I wondered. This source told me, as I reported at the time, that Licht was interested in bringing over someone from the world of late night: a Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert-type. This made a fair amount of sense. After all, Licht was fresh from his stint reviving Colbert’s show, which had been a moribund underperformer until Les Moonves moved him off CBS This Morning for a reboot. Perhaps he was still fascinated by the format.