NewsNation hires Chris Cuomo as new evening host

The CNN castoff finds new home thanks to Nexstar

You probably figured Chris Cuomo’s appearance on NewsNation’s Dan Abrams Live Tuesday night would leave to something more for the ex-CNN host down the line. It was so carefully orchestrated you’d think Abrams offered Cuomo a job right on the air. 

And boom – shortly after his appearance, the Nexstar-owned cable news network announced they hired Cuomo for a one-hour nightly show starting this fall. No date or timeslot was announced, and nothing was said on how they would accommodate him on the schedule. 

NewsNation hyped the Cuomo interview for days on its network and its 100+ local stations including WGN-TV. Cuomo lost his prime-time show on CNN late last year after he allegedly assisted his brother – former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York as he was being investigated for sexual harassment. Cuomo and CNN were criticized for allowing Cuomo for interviewing his brother on his show, due to a conflict of interest. 

A veteran of Fox News and ABC News, Cuomo joined CNN as co-host of their morning show New Day and promoted to his own evening show in 2018. Airing in the middle of a prime-time block, his show was the highest-ranked ahead of Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon. 

“NewsNation has earned high-praise from multiple media watchdog groups by remaining true to its mission to bring viewers the fact-based news that impacts their lives without opinion or bias,” said Nexstar President of Networks Sean Compton. “Chris joins our growing team of seasoned, award winning journalists and will further our efforts to continue to ensure fairness and transparency in our news reporting and talk shows.”

Cuomo said: “NewsNation believes in the work I am doing with the Chris Cuomo Project and I look forward to building something special here — covering news wherever it happens and having conversations that cater to common concerns and solutions rather than political parties or the political circus.”

The one who actually made the hire was Michael Corn, who joined NewsNation in May 2021 after eighteen years at ABC News. He was forced out after he was accused of sexually assaulting two women during his tenure there. The younger Cuomo has faced sexual harassment charges himself, so at least they have something in common. 

During his Tuesday night appearance on his soon-to-be employer, Cuomo denied he sexually harassed anyone at CNN. He’s suing CNN through arbitration, seeking $125 million. 

Launched as a three-hour prime-time news block on the former WGN America in September 2020, NewsNation struggled for ratings right off the bat and over the last two years lost key anchors and personnel – especially after Nexstar hired former Fox News producer Bill Shine as a consultant and retooled its lineup including rebranding WGN to NewsNation. It hasn’t paid off in the ratings as during the month of June, NewsNation drew only 44,000 viewers in prime-time, ranking 91st among all cable networks. But the lackluster ratings hasn’t stopped Nexstar, whose NewsNation plans to be a 24/7 cable news channel by 2024 as investors and advertisers haven’t really shown concern about the low numbers. 

The channel has also been questioned about the lack of presence during breaking news events, especially during the day. For example, NewsNation was absent on July 4 as a tragic mass shooting unfolded in north suburban Highland Park, basically in NewsNation’s own backyard as the network is based at WGN-TV in Chicago as other cable news networks covered the story, preferring instead to stick with reruns of off-network dramas, a holdover from the WGN Superstation/America era. Cable news thrives on breaking stories and they don’t seem to be serious about competing with the other networks.

The hire of Cuomo is obviously questionable, as is of Corn, giving the impression that NewsNation is home to those who can’t get a gig anywhere else because of past misconduct, or their star in the journalism world has greatly dimmed. Of course, Nexstar is the same outfit whose Chicago station brought talent-free clown and marijuana “farmer” Jim Belushi onto its 4 p.m. newscast Friday, perhaps the strongest evidence yet on local news and journalism in general jumping the shark. Don’t be surprised if Belushi is NewsNation’s next hire – or the Chicago Party Aunt.  

The best Chicago response to Cuomo’s hire by NewsNation was with this tweet:

Sums it up, doesn’t it? 

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