CNN’s new boss Chris Licht is in ‘secret talks’ to lure Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzinski

CNN's new boss Chris Licht is in 'secret talks' to lure Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzinski 2
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CNN’s new boss Chris Licht is attempting to pull off a major coup for the struggling network by luring away two of its rival’s biggest stars. 

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Licht is attempting to bring Morning Joe hosts, husband and wife Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski to head-up CNN’s new ‘re-imagined’ morning line-up, according to Radar Online. 

It was Licht who created Morning Joe, alongside Scarborough and writer John Ridley, in 2007. 

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A source told Radar: ‘It is unlikely MSNBC will let them out of their contract, but Chris is a patient man.’ 

According to the Radar report, when Licht left MSNBC for CBS in 2011, he was keen to bring Scarborough and Brzenzinski over with him. The two were reportedly on board with the plan but couldn’t get out of their contracts at that point either. 

Brzenzinski was brought to the liberal network by Scarborough after being let go by CBS in 2007.

Licht was appointed as the new boss of CNN in February 2022 when longtime president Jeff Zucker resigned after he failed to disclose an affair he had with a staffer.  

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At the time, Scarborough told The Hollywood Reporter: ‘He is very hard-nosed, forgive me for the sports analogy but he is like a tough middle linebacker, he is not going to be sitting up in an executive office trying to figure out what to do.’

Morning Joe hosts, husband and wife team, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzinski, have been working on the show since 2007

Morning Joe hosts, husband and wife team, Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzenzinski, have been working on the show since 2007

New CNN boss Chris Licht, pictured here in June in Cannes, has said that he plans to 're-imagine' the tanking network's morning programming

New CNN boss Chris Licht, pictured here in June in Cannes, has said that he plans to ‘re-imagine’ the tanking network’s morning programming

The former Florida rep said that he felt Licht would bring a ‘no-nonsense’ and ‘refreshing’ approach to CNN’s broadcasts. 

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He added: ‘I am really excited as a viewer of news. It’s going to be great.’  

In October 2021, it was widely reported that Scarborough and Brzezinski had opened contract negotiations with bosses at NBC. With Scarborough said to be seeking $31 million per year.   

Just a few months later, in January, it was announced that MSNBC was extending Morning Joe by an hour starting in April. This meant that Scarborough and Brzenzinski were featured 25 hours per week on the network. 

Sources say that it's extremely unlikely that Scarborugh or Brzezinski will be let out of their contracts with MSNBC

Sources say that it’s extremely unlikely that Scarborugh or Brzezinski will be let out of their contracts with MSNBC

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During and in the aftermath of the Trump presidency, the couple have been among the former Apprentice host’s most consistent critics. 

Scarborough is a former Republican congressman who left the GOP in 2017 over the party’s unrelenting support for Trump.  

Recently, Licht said that he wanted to bring CNN back to the center politically, including asking hosts to stop referring to Trump’s allegations of election fraud as ‘the big lie.’ 

Licht said in May that CNN’s morning show would be ‘re-imagined’ in the fall of 2022.  

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He was quoted by The Wrap as saying: ‘[To] be honest there, we are seeking to be a disrupter of the broadcast morning shows in this space, and we believe we have the people and resources who can do it.’

Earlier in June, the New York Post reported that Licht was looking to fire any anchors who didn’t realign with his vision for non-partisan news. 

A source told Radar Online: ‘Chris’ first priority will be fixing CNN’s morning and primetime programming. That is where the big advertiser money is. Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and the morning hosts should be concerned.’ 

It’s possible that Licht knows that Scarborough will be in a position of power during negotiations with his current management. 

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Licht told GQ in 2016 that because Scarborough personally picked many of the regulars who appear on his show, he has earned a lot of latitude with the Comcast-owned channel.

He said: ‘It’s a very unique thing in television where you can say, ‘No one believed me, now look where we are. I got us here, so I’ll continue to call the shots, if you don’t mind.” 

The pair have worked together since the pre-cursor to Morning Joe, Scarborough Country. Licht told Time Magazine in 2011 that his nickname at MSNBC was ‘Captain Intense.’ 

Licht left MSNBC in 2011 to move to CBS, where he initially worked on This Morning before jumping ship to produce The Late Show with Stephen Colbert before assuming his current role. 

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In 2021, weekday prime-time viewership dropped 38% at CNN, 34% at Fox News Channel and 25% at MSNBC, according to the Nielsen company.

The decline was less steep but still significant at broadcast television evening newscasts: 12% at ABC’s World News Tonight and the CBS Evening News; 14% at NBC’s Nightly News, Nielsen said.

According to numbers in June, MSNBC came second behind Fox News among the networks for average daily viewers. The network reported one million average viewers compared to CNN’s 500,000, reports Mediaite. 

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