Jake Tapper's time in primetime turned out to be short-lived.
CNN has confirmed that Tapper will return to his old time slot at 4 p.m. after he was temporarily moved to a primetime spot at 9 p.m. through the midterms. "At the completion of that schedule, he'll be returning to his award-winning program The Lead," the network said in a statement to Mediaite. "We will announce post-election plans for that time slot in the coming days."
CNN announced in September that Tapper would anchor the 9 p.m. hour through the midterm elections, and the move wasn't described as permanent. Still, Puck reports that CNN CEO Chris Licht's "goal all along was to make Tapper the permanent host of the 9 p.m. hour, and the face of his CNN." But Tapper's primetime show "cratered week over week" in the ratings, Puck noted, drawing fewer than 450,000 viewers this past Monday.
A CNN source told Semafor that Tapper "only agreed to do the show through the midterms, and that he always considered it to be a temporary experiment." And while Variety reports that "by several accounts, Licht had settled on Tapper as the new anchor for CNN's 9 p.m. hour," Tapper had "cautioned he was concerned about what the move might mean for his personal life and family."
But the move leaves open the question of who will permanently fill CNN's 9 p.m. slot, which was occupied by Chris Cuomo prior to his 2021 firing. The network also created another primetime vacancy when Don Lemon, who anchored at 10 p.m., was recently moved to a "reimagined" morning show. Speaking to Puck, media executives described the viewership of that new morning show as "an abject disaster."