CNN Reportedly Considering Hiring a Comedian for Prime Time Spot


A comedian could potentially take a prime time spot on CNN, according to a report.

Five people familiar with the matter told Semafor the “news entertainment” personality could take the primetime hours of 9 to 11 p.m. with a nontraditional take on the news.

CNN executives have reportedly mentioned names, including Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, Arsenio Hall, and Jon Stewart, the outlet reported.

“They’re looking for their version of John Oliver,” a television news insider said to Semafor.

One CNN executive said the network has considered turning 9 p.m. to midnight into a series of shows designed similar to a variety program with “shows within shows” for different journalists.

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Semafor mentioned a comment made by The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple about the move to put an entertainer in a prime time spot and how that could potentially prove to be an issue.

“Such an experiment could also deliver a programming disaster,” Wemple said.

He added, “Consider a scenario in which said entertainer was on air at the moment that an overseas war broke out, or an earthquake struck, or some statesperson died. Watching the network scramble to switch back into hard-news mode — well, that would surely be entertaining.”

The report comes just more than a month after the network executed layoffs and announced changes to programming.

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“The changes we are making today are necessary and will make us stronger and better positioned to place big bets going forward without fear of failure,” the company’s chief executive, Chris Licht, said in a memo at the time.

Additionally, Licht announced the network would no longer “produce live programming for HLN.”

Licht explained CNN would also be shifting the strategy with paid contributors.

“In some areas, we will rely more on our CNN journalists,” Licht said in the memo.

He continued, “Overall, we will engage contributors who are subject-matter experts that expand and diversify the viewpoints we bring our audience.”

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Licht said at the time other divisions including U.S. newsgathering, operations, research, creative marketing, and programming were undergoing changes.

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