While Michael Smerconish, a radio host, and a registered Independent will take over the 9 pm primetime hour on CNN this week, the move is only temporary and the decision to anoint him for the week was made prior to Saturday’s decision by Jeff Zucker to ax Cuomo.
“It’s Jake — by a long stretch,” a network insider told Radar.
“Jake star has been on the rise for a long time. He is the logical choice, but if he takes over, it will have a cascading effect because Jake’s unlikely to be able to continue State of the Union and remain lead DC anchor and Chief Washington Correspondent. In short, this really has screwed with CNN’s programming line-up.
“The only saving grace is that it is the end of the year and network bosses can position 2022 as a revamped line-up.”
One person who is privately angling for the position is Brian Stelter, the anchor of Reliable Sources which examines the week’s top media stories and the Chief Media Correspondent.
Said the source: “The only one who thinks Brian could do 9pm is Brian himself.”
Also said to be in the mix is Brian Williams, who quit NBC after 28 years despite remaking his career as an MSNBC host after losing his job as NBC’s Nightly News anchor for making false claims about a wartime story.
The network source said Zucker could also pull off an unlikely succession move by promoting a female; CNN is the only network that does not have a female in its prime-time lineup.
One name swirling around the corridors of the cable giant is S.E. Cupp, who hosts S.E. Cupp: Unfiltered, a political panel show, on CNN’s Saturday evening line-up.
“Consider Zucker’s position, though. Can S.E. Cupp draw an audience big enough to beat Rachel Maddow at MSNBC or FOX News’ Sean Hannity. It’s unlikely. This could be the biggest decision of Zucker’s career.”
Cuomo was fired after it emerged the extent of the role he played trying to mitigate the sexual harassment accusations that took down his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
At the same, an allegation of sexual misconduct was levelled against the former CNN anchor by a former ABC colleague, it has been reported.