CNN Can't Get it Right in the Morning

The future of morning TV is one of the primary question marks facing the TV industry as new habits continue to evolve. Few who know anything about the TV industry will deny that morning TV is an irreplaceable driving point for a news network and can still pull in ridiculous amounts of money. Morning TV is lucrative. It sets the tone, and most importantly, it gets households to turn on a channel they may leave on for hours. It's a gold mine -- if viewers tune in.

Much has been made about the future of CNN, as well. President Jeff Zucker plans to depart at the end of this year, the network went all-in on hating Donald Trump, who is no longer in office, and there are reported rumors that AT&T could eventually look to sell CNN. My reaction to all of this has been that the network must first fix its own morning show, New Day.

New Day has always struggled to compete with Fox & Friends and Morning Joe, its cable news morning show competitors. Though this has been an issue for years, recent averages paint a clear picture of the discrepancy.

In March 2021, Fox & Friends and Morning Joe both averaged right around 1.2 million viewers. In the same 6 am - 9 am timeslot, New Day drew just 570,000. From December 2019 to December 2020, a full year of ratings before the holidays, New Day's 680,000 trailed Fox & Friends' 1.7 million and Joe's 1.4 million. In the triple threat WrestleMania main event of the three programs, New Day gets thrown through the table early and stays there.

The most recent iteration of New Day kicked off this week when Brianna Keilar replaced Alisyn Camerota, who moved to afternoons. The combo of Keilar and John Berman (more on this guy in a bit) isn't off to a hot start, averaging just 495,000 viewers on Monday and 547,000 on Tuesday.

While it's sometimes difficult to foresee exactly who will catch fire in a TV news slot (unless it features Bomani Jones, who will tank the slot massively), the problems with Keilar and Berman are rather obvious. The two just aren't the kind of people others want to be like. Their big headline this week was pandering to Don Lemon, asking him what white people -- just white people -- should do to learn about racism. Berman teed Lemon up. Lemon, like the insufferable host he is, recommended white people learn about racism from -- wait for it -- his new book. Recommending books for white people, huh? Who is watching that? No one, the data says. (I doubt anyone will read the book either.)

As for Keilar, the last I had heard from her was when she got performatively mad when competing host, Pete Hegseth of Fox News, hung out at a diner with average Americans. Such people, those who don't live anywhere near New York City, often unwittingly expose the narrow-mindedness of people like Keilar. No wonder she was mad.

One of the reasons CNN struggles so much in the morning compared to other time slots is that it is unwilling to connect to morning viewers. It ignores the individuals watching. Morning TV is supposed to be fun, informative, and comforting. Nothing says agitating, spin-jobs, and hostility more than Chris Cuomo, who previously held Berman's spot on the show.

To be fair, not even Michael Strahan on ABC's morning show can do this:

I don't get it: how did a guy who can do that not turn New Day into Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee?

CNN is a lot like ESPN. It sticks a middle finger at average, working Americans. I mean, bringing Don Lemon on for re-launch week proves that. In the morning yet...

Written by
Bobby Burack is a writer for OutKick where he reports and analyzes the latest topics in media, culture, sports, and politics.. Burack has become a prominent voice in media and has been featured on several shows across OutKick and industry related podcasts and radio stations.