CNN’s Kaitlan Collins named as new primetime host after Trump town hall debacle

CNN boss Chris Licht announced star’s appointment in memo to staff on Wednesday

Bevan Hurley
Wednesday 17 May 2023 16:43 BST
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Kaitlan Collins has been named as the new host of CNN’s 9pm primetime slot.

Collins’ appointment, revealed to staff in a memo by CNN boss Chris Licht, comes as the network was heavily criticised for last week’s town hall with former president Donald Trump and amid plunging ratings.

Mr Licht described Collins as one of the “top reporters and interviewers in the game”, in a memo obtained by the New York Times.

“She is a smart and gifted journalist who we’ve all seen hold lawmakers and newsmakers accountable.”

Mr Licht confirmed the promotion at a Warner Bros. Discovery upfront event on Wednesday morning.

Collins, 31, has enjoyed a meteoric rise since joining CNN from the Daily Caller in 2017.

She was the network’s Chief White House correspondent during the 2020 election, where she earned a reputation as an unflinching chronicler of the Trump administration.

The Alabama native hosted a controversial town hall event with Mr Trump in New Hampshire on 10 May, where she repeatedly clashed with the Republican frontrunner.

Kaitlan Collins attends the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last month
Kaitlan Collins attends the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last month (Associated Press)

During a tense exchange over classified documents, Mr Trump called her a “nasty person”.

While CNN was pilloried for offering a platform to Mr Trump to repeatedly lie and smear E Jean Carroll after being found liable for her sexual assault, Collins’ efforts to moderate the debate earned widespread praise.

Mr Licht defended the decision to host Mr Trump, claiming that Americas had been “well served” by the event.

Among the first to congratulate her was fellow CNN anchorJake Tapper.

Mr Licht said Collins’ CNN This Morning co-host Poppy Harlow will continue to anchor that show with a series of guest hosts.

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