Jake Tapper heads to primetime as CNN announces slate of midterm election programming

Tapper, the network’s lead Washington anchor, will anchor the 9 pm hour starting October 10 and continuing until November 11.

“The world has come to rely on Jake’s no-nonsense approach to covering the news, especially during high-stakes election cycles,” CNN chief executive Chris Licht said in a statement.

Licht added that the move will showcase Tapper’s “tough reporting, smart analysis and consequential interviews as our audiences navigate the myriad of issues at stake in the midterms.”

The decision about who Licht would put in the all-important 9 pm time slot has been highly anticipated. Licht, who has started to put his stamp on CNN’s television programming after becoming head of CNN in May, inherited a network with a hole in its primetime lineup after former anchor Chris Cuomo was fired by his predecessor in December.

The announcement about Tapper was accompanied by a slew of other major programming changes.

Alisyn Camerota, co-anchor of “CNN Newsroom” in the afternoons, and Laura Coates, senior legal analyst, will anchor from 10 pm to midnight through the midterm elections, CNN said.

That time slot will be vacated soon by Don Lemon, who CNN announced earlier this month would move earlier in the lineup to co-anchor the network’s marquee morning show. CNN said Lemon will sign off his primetime program on October 7 to prepare for the new show.

Licht said he believed “by adding the insights, experience and strong voices” of Camerota and Coates, CNN would expand on Tapper’s hard-hitting coverage and create “something complimentary and compelling in primetime.”

Meanwhile, John Berman and Brianna Keilar, who have hosted the “New Day” morning program that will end later this year, will each fill in for Tapper in the 4 pm hour.

Wolf Blitzer will then pick up an extra hour, anchoring from 5 pm to 7 pm Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper will continue hosting their shows at their respective hours.

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