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CNN is holding on-air tryouts to replace Chris Cuomo at 9 pm. The network fired Cuomo in December after several sexual misconduct complaints surfaced and for aiding his brother — former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was dealing with his own sexual harassment allegations — and then lying about it.
So far, CNN has tried out familiar network faces, like Michael Smerconish, Laura Coates, Brianna Keilar and Jim Acosta. However, familiar doesn’t mean likable, and this list reads like a who’s who of the most unpopular names in all of news media — particularly Acosta.
Acosta made his name as a White House reporter during the Trump administration. Acosta often bickered with Trump and mischaracterized many of the Trump events he covered. CNN then pulled Acosta off the White House beat once Biden took office. No more Briefing Room trolling for Acosta with Jen Psaki at the podium.
Acosta now hosts a weekend program, and he also got the opportunity to try out for Cuomo’s former time slot last week. In primetime, Acosta gave CNN the complete Acosta experience: cringe jokes, a condescending smirk and low ratings.
Through four days, Acosta drew around 560,000 viewers at 9 pm. For context, that’s fewer viewers than 1000-Lb. Sisters on TLC drew last week.
I spoke to Fox News about Acosta’s tryout on Friday:
“CNN viewers may like Jim Acosta’s political views, but that doesn’t mean they like him. How could they? Acosta is a bitter man who speaks in clichés and cracks jokes only he finds funny.”
So who should replace Cuomo?
CNN likely does not want to go with a white man. CNN doesn’t like white guys, as it often reminds us. So a white guy would have to outdraw the others and earn the job by a clear margin. Neither Acosta nor Smerconish can do that.
If CNN goes with Brianna Keilar, we can confidently say the network no longer cares about broadcast quality or viewership. No one likes Keilar, and the numbers prove it. The ratings for New Days, which she hosts, are in the tank, as are the ratings for every other show on which she appears. If she’s on, viewers will change the channel. Simple as.
So Don Lemon may slither from 10 pm to 9 pm, and CNN could then put Laura Coates, who’s not a big enough name for 9 pm yet, at the lesser-viewed 10 time slot. While there are many reasons CNN should not further invest in Lemon — including accusations of sexual assault, low ratings, and a history of racism — CNN doesn’t care. CNN likes Lemon and doesn’t have other options.
Chris Cuomo may have been pompous, but at least he was entertaining. Despite his faults, Cuomo was CNN’s top draw. CNN does not have a viable replacement for Cuomo on its roster. So hopefully, CNN+, an upcoming app of more CNN content, can do the trick.