CNN Presses ‘New Day’ to Hit Hard in the Morning

CNN said it intends to continue flouting the typical conventions of TV’s morning-news programs with its “New Day,” a show executives said Thursday morning is built to hold newsmakers accountable rather than ease viewers into the A.M. with soothing tones and cross-staff chatter.

“‘New Day’ is there to hold both sides accountable,” said Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, at a press event Thursday. “We are doing the straightest news program on the straightest news channel.” “New Day” saw its audience rise 50% in the first quarter of 2017 among viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 – the audience most coveted by advertisers in news programming – and 27% overall.  Zucker said the program has helped CNN generate the biggest audience it has ever had between 4 a.m. and 9 a.m. The program is preceded by the early-morning news program “Early Start.”

But “New Day” is not nearly as light or fluffy as the scrambled eggs many of its viewers likely consume as they watch. Instead, co-hosts Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota spend a lot of time pressing politicians and other guests to move off prepared talking points and answer tough questions. In recent days, for example, Cuomo had a heated to-and-fro with Sebastian Gorka, a White House national security aide, over President Trump’s proposed travel ban. “What you’ve just spun is classic fake news,” Gorka said during a minutes-long conversation. “”I don’t think it’s spin,” Cuomo retorted. “I think that it’s a little bit of logic that you’re having a tough time dealing with.”

Camerota and Cuomo acknowledged that members of the Trump administration have been reluctant to appear on the program. One challenge, Camerota suggested, is that White House officials seem unable to keep pace with a President who is likely to change his mind or pivot to a new policy at a moment’s notice. “I don’t expect them to be able to channel the President,” she said. “I’ve changed my expectations.”

That said, CNN has a standing request with the White House to interview President Donald Trump, said Zucker, and would be eager for the opportunity to do so. “I believe CNN is the only major journalism organization in the country that has not had an interview with Trump as President,” he said. “That tells you he knows he will be held to account if he appeared on CNN.”

Zucker and the “New Day” anchors took some time to discuss the controversy that seems to have drawn the gaze of every TV-news staffer in the industry: Megyn Kelly’s coming interview with Alex Jones, a popular provocateur who delivers false conspiracy reports via streaming video.  An interview between Jones and Kelly is slated to run this Sunday on her new NBC News newsmagazine. A teaser presented in recent days showing Kelly interviewing Jones has sparked backlash, particularly from victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings, which Jones falsely labeled as being a hoax.

“My feeling is that I’m interested in how Alex Jones justifies the sickening philosophy,” said Camerota. “The task and the responsibility is on the interviewer to be prosecutorial and to really hold his feet to the fire,” she said.

Cuomo suggested the teaser brought Kelly unwanted attention and may not have presented the segment in the best light. “It got her in trouble here.”

“Let’s not prejudge what the story is until we see it,” said Zucker. “But they’ve done themselves no favors in the way they’ve marketed this.”

But the trio tried to steer attention back to their program, which they positioned as a place where viewers can see people in the news being held to a high standard. When people go off message, “you have to call it out,” said Cuomo. “And I do it every day.”


More TV

  • Mary Higgins Clark

    Reel One, Element 8 and La Sabotière to Develop Mary Higgins Clark's Crime Novels

    Montreal-based producer and distributor Reel One Entertainment has partnered with U.S. producer Element 8 Entertainment and Paris-based La Sabotière to develop an anthology series based on the novels of American crime writer Mary Higgins Clark. U.S. screenwriter and author Ilene Rosenzweig, whose credits include “Station 19” and “Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce,” is attached as writer [...]

  • Informer

    Mipcom Roundup: All3Media and Blue Ant Sell in Asia, Lagardère Buys in Spain

    In Variety’s third Mipcom Roundup Alibaba’s streaming platform Youku gets BBC programs, Lagardère buys full ownership of Barcelona’s Veranda, Banijay rolls out Guinness World Records series, Blue Ant International sells and renews and All3Media Intl. extends into Japan and Taiwan. All3Media Strikes Deals in Japan, Taiwan All3Media has grown its footprint in Asia thanks to newly announced [...]

  • Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs

    Help Wanted: Amazon Studios International Execs Talk European Expansion

    If there’s a perfect example of Amazon Studios’ strategy with its local-language international TV content, Japan’s “Documental” would be it. The series revolves around 10 comedians who battle to make one another laugh in an elimination-style competition. James Farrell, Amazon Studios’ head of international originals, said it was a good example of an unconventional idea [...]

  • vernon-subutex

    Studiocanal Closes North America SVOD on ‘Vernon Subutex’ with Topic (EXCLUSIVE)

    CANNES —  Forging what could well be a fertile relationship, Studiocanal has sold North American SVOD rights on Canal Plus Creation Original “Vernon Subutex,” and “Pros and Cons,” from Denmark’s SAM Productions, to First Look Media’s Topic. Targeting “culture cravers,” “an audience deeply involved in social, political and cultural issues of today,” general manger Ryan [...]

  • Spin the Wheel

    Endeavor Content, TF1 to Co-Produce 'Spin the Wheel's French Adaptation (EXCLUSIVE)

    Endeavor Content has closed a co-production deal for Glassman Media’s hit gameshow “Spin the Wheel” with France’s leading commercial network, TF1. The deal marks the first major international primetime commission for the show. Production is set to start in early 2020 and TF1 will air it on primetime. Glassman Media will be building an international [...]

  • Lourdes-Diaz

    AGC TV and Gretchen Goldsmith Launch New Music Reality Format, ‘The Fandom’

    A new kind of reality TV format is hitting Mipcom. AGC Television, the TV production and distribution unit of Stuart Ford’s indie content studio, AGC Studios, has joined forces with Emmy-winning executive producer Gretchen Goldsmith to produce a new hybrid format called “The Fandom.” This is the first music/reality show from AGC TV, which has [...]

  • Discovery, ProSiebenSat.1 Streamer Joyn Will Launch

    Discovery and ProSiebenSat.1's Joint Streamer, Joyn, Will Get International Launch

    Joyn, the streaming service run jointly by Discovery and German media giant ProSiebenSat.1, will roll out internationally in addition to launching a premium tier domestically later this year. At Mipcom in Cannes, ProSiebenSat.1 CEO Max Conze was asked whether the service, which offers on-demand content and linear channel feeds, would launch beyond Germany. “We definitely [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content