While Erin Burnett takes scheduled time off for maternity leave in December and January, CNN will use her absence to give more prominent airtime to two other anchors, while experimenting elsewhere on the schedule.
The Time Warner-owned cable-news outlet said Tuesday that both Jake Tapper and Don Lemon will each host her 7 p.m. program, “Outfront,” for three weeks. Tapper, who will continue to host his 4 p.m. program, “The Lead,” will fill the anchor chair at “Outfront” during the weeks of December 2, December 9 and December 16. Lemon, who has hosted a weekend edition of “CNN Newsroom,” will substitute for Burnett during the weeks of December 23, December 30 and January 6, CNN said.
Lemon will also get a three-week stint hosting a new program set to air at 11 p.m – typically an hour when CNN airs a rerun of Burnett’s program. “The 11th Hour” will run for three weeks at 11 p.m., staring the week of December 2. Brooke Baldwin will host “CNN Tonight” for half an hour starting at 11:30 p.m during that December stretch.
While ratings for CNN’s primetime schedule have improved this year owing to a string of big news events that often drive viewers to the network, the programs have not led the cable-news sector overall. Under CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, the network has demonstrated a willingness to test new ideas. In April, CNN tested a roundtable talk program, “(Get To) The Point that featured Donny Deutsch, Linda Hoover and Rick Reilly in a breezy chat format. The show lasted a week on the air.