Brian ­Stelter, Jake Tapper Reportedly Gunning for Chris Cuomo’s Primetime Gig

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As CNN ponders Chris Cuomo’s future during his indefinite suspension, other anchors are beginning to envision themselves as the next CNN primetime host.

On Tuesday, the network suspended Cuomo indefinitely following new details released in the New York AG’s investigation of his brother Andrew Cuomo’s sexual assault allegations.

According to the New York Post, Cuomo is unlikely to keep his job, a gig that pays him $6 million a year.

“The buzz inside CNN is it’s over,” the outlet quoted a source as saying.

So if Cuomo is out, who could CNN look to as his successor? The Post says Jake Tapper and Brian Stelter are two current pundits aiming for the job:

“If Cuomo’s suspension becomes permanent, CNN’s Jake Tapper, who hosts The Lead from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, appears to be the front-runner to replace him, sources said.

“And chief media correspondent Brian ­Stelter ‘wants the job.'”

Stelter’s inclusion will draw a reaction. But what does the Post’s source mean when they say Stelter “wants the job”? If asked the question, most anchors would say they “want” an opportunity to front their network’s leading time slot, which at CNN is 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, details are most abundant for Tapper, who has reportedly pressured Jeff Zucker to act on Cuomo following the AG report:

“One source said Tapper — who publicly blasted Chris Cuomo’s ethics in May, after The Washington Post revealed he took part in strategy sessions with his brother’s aides and advisers — appeared to be gunning for the gig.”

Tapper, who currently hosts dayside, would bring a different pace to primetime than Cuomo. While opinionated, Tapper is less charismatic than Cuomo. Though that may be for what CNN hopes as its parent company, WarnerMedia, clears the way to merge with Discovery Inc. in 2022. The leading shareholder in Discovery and chief architect behind the WarnerMedia-Discovery merger, John Malone recently said last week he hopes to see CNN evolve back to “actual journalism.”

Technically, Tapper is more of a “journalist” than Cuomo. Moreover, Tapper is CNN’s most important figure, one the network invested in last year by promoting him to lead anchor for major D.C. events.

Jim Acosta, Michael Smerconish, and Laura Coates are other in-house names to watch should CNN part ways with Cuomo. Sadly, CNN could also elevate Don Lemon from his 10 p.m. time slot to 9 p.m.

As for Chris Cuomo’s future, I argued Wednesday that Cuomo himself, who likely sees the writing on the wall, could expedite his exit with an agreed-upon buyout — an outcome that would benefit both parties. Without CNN, Cuomo can grow his SiriusXM radio show or launch a digital media company, alone or with media partners.

The timetable for CNN’s final decision on Cuomo remains unclear.

Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.


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  1. That over-the-top bizarro “characters” like Stelter, Joy Reid, Olbermann and, yes, Joe Biden occupy roles of any significance in America’s descent “down the rabbithole” is a testament to the seriousness of our plight … sigh.
    America 2021 is somewhere between an SNL skit and a Monty Python movie…

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