Ratings-challenged Don Lemon ‘not the answer,’ to CNN’s morning show issues, critics say


CNN recently announced low-rated, left-wing host Don Lemon would move from primetime to an ensemble morning program later this year, as the network attempts to revamp its AM lineup with a show centered around a host who's struggled to attract viewers.

"CNN had tried for years to fix its morning programming and Don Lemon is not the answer," a longtime network morning show producer told Fox News Digital when the move was announced.

Lemon has never particularly been a ratings draw, with his primetime program peaking at an average audience of 1.6 million in 2020, an election year that saw Fox News' "The Ingraham Angle" average 3.5 million viewers and MSNBC’s "Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell" attract 2.4 million. The election-year spike was Lemon’s largest yearly audience since he landed the primetime gig, and he never averaged more than 1.1 million viewers during the show’s roughly nine-year run.

"Don Lemon Tonight" has averaged a dismal nightly audience of 683,000 viewers in 2022, down 34% from his 2021 viewership that finished behind both MSNBC and Fox News in the time slot.

"New Day," the long-struggling morning program that Lemon is set to replace, has been a ratings disaster that failed to emerge as a relevant morning show option. The show launched to much fanfare in 2013 but never managed to average even 700,000 viewers for a year despite multiple reboots and anchor changes. The soon-to-be-scrapped show has suffered in 2022, averaging fewer than 400,000 for four consecutive months entering September.

DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall is puzzled by the apparent belief inside CNN that the ratings-challenged Lemon can fix the network’s morning show.

"It is a real long shot that Don Lemon can generate an audience for CNN in the morning time slot. He is already a known quantity to viewers and the low ratings for his evening program is ample evidence that he doesn't resonate," McCall told Fox News Digital.

"His presence on the morning show will be moderated a bit since there are co-hosts, but probably not enough to boost CNN mornings out of their ratings doldrums. He will still be the face of that morning show," McCall continued. "His evening show was characterized by his hard-hitting and sometimes controversial opinions. That style doesn't work so well with people having coffee in the morning at their breakfast tables,  and it is hard to imagine Lemon relegating himself to just doing chatty commentary and softer interviews."... (Read more)

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