CNN Adds Chris Cuomo to Mornings as Managing Editor Leaves

Mark Whitaker Calls Jeff Zucker 'New Leader With His Own Forceful Ideas'

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It's a busy day at CNN. The cable news network is losing exec VP and Managing Editor Mark Whitaker, who told staff he is leaving to give Jeff Zucker room to provide "one clear vision," and gaining ABC News' Chris Cuomo for a new morning show. The moves are the latest under Mr. Zucker, who officially took over as CNN president last week.

Chris Cuomo
Chris Cuomo Credit: ABC

Mr. Whitaker, a former editor of Newsweek who worked with Mr. Zucker during both execs' time at NBC, called Mr. Zucker "a new leader with his own forceful ideas" in his email to CNN employees. "For him to succeed, I believe he deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff," he wrote. "I have shared that conclusion with him and he has agreed to let me step down as managing editor and move on from CNN."

Mr. Whitaker, who joined CNN in 2011, had been responsible for leading the network's editorial coverage across platforms. He also oversaw the development of Soledad O'Brien's morning show, "Starting Point," which has failed to gain traction.

Now Mr. Zucker will handle Mr. Whitaker's portfolio, a CNN spokeswoman said. "Jeff comes from an editorial background and will lead the editorial direction for CNN Worldwide," she said by email.

CNN also said this morning that it had hired Mr. Cuomo, an anchor of "20/20" and previously the news anchor on "Good Morning America," to host a new morning show. Mr. Zucker, who was lauded for his leadership two decades ago at "Today," said at the time of his appointment that mornings hold potential for CNN.

"Chris is an accomplished anchor who is already an established name in morning television, as well as a widely respected investigative journalist," Mr. Zucker said in a statement.

The spokeswoman did not immediately respond when asked how Mr. Cuomo's arrival would affect Ms. O'Brien.

Moving on other fronts, Mr. Zucker last week poached ESPN veteran Rachel Nichols to anchor a new weekend sports program. He also played a role last month in tapping ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper to become CNN's chief Washington correspondent.

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