CNN In Secret Talks To Poach Star Couple From MSNBC: Report
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and guests Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski during Thursday's October 18, 2018 show. (Photo by Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images)
Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images

CNN is in secret talks to poach the husband and wife “Morning Joe” team from rival liberal news network MSNBC, according to a report.

CNN’s already dismal ratings have continued their freefall under new boss Chris Licht, who took over in February for scandalized Jeff Zucker. Licht, who is a former executive producer at MSNBC and also a former CBS News veteran, is reportedly aiming to shore up the morning roster with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, according to RadarOnline.

“When CBS hired Chris, he wanted to hire Joe and Mika to head up his morning show instead of Gayle King,” a source told the outlet. “Joe and Mika were into it, but they couldn’t get out of their deal with NBC. Now Chris is pulling the same trick again as he starts his new job at CNN hoping this time, he will be able to pull it off.”

Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida who has become increasingly liberal, and Brzezinski, the daughter of President Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, have teamed up for their show since 2007. Although both were married to other people when the show began, they later left their spouses and were married in 2018.

Although its ratings are dwarfed by “Fox & Friends,” “Morning Joe,” which airs from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. ET, is considered influential among Beltway liberals.

It is not known how much NBC pays the couple, but Scarborough reportedly earned $5 million per year from the show nearly a decade ago, according to records from his divorce.

Peeling the duo away from MSNBC won’t be easy, a source told RadarOnline.

“It is unlikely MSNBC will let them out of their contract, but Chris is a patient man,” the source said.

Licht was appointed president of CNN in February, after longtime chief Jeff Zucker was ousted for hiding an affair he had with a woman he hired and repeatedly promoted. Zucker and his paramour were also accused of scheming with then-Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) to burnish his image as a leader during the COVID pandemic. But their efforts backfired spectacularly when Cuomo’s brother and CNN anchor Chris Cuomo became entangled in his brother’s sexual harassment scandal. The network fired him, and he sued for $125 million.

Licht has signaled he wants to revamp the network and get rid of its most hyper-partisan, liberal talent. Pressure to get back to CNN’s roots as a bastion of straight news is believed to be coming from John Malone, a key shareholder in CNN’s parent company.

“We will reimagine our morning show leveraging our correspondents and unmatched resources in the U.S. and around the world to provide news that viewers need to know as they start their day,” Licht said.

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