CNN moves John King off ‘Inside Politics’ for ‘reporting project’

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CNN has announced that John King, its chief national correspondent and anchor of “Inside Politics” will leave the show for a “new reporting project” focused on the 2024 election.

King has anchored “Inside” since 2014. He will stay with the network as national correspondent as well being assigned to a pre-election project.

It will be “… focused on voters in key battleground states as the 2024 presidential campaign cycle gets underway. The project will follow the voters who pick presidents and settle close races, giving them a voice and telling in-depth and nuanced stories about how they view politicians and political issues throughout the election cycle,” reads CNN’s announcement. He will also remain a “staple” throughout other live election and other special coverage.

“This is my ‘back to the future’ dream assignment. It is my tenth presidential cycle and, given the stakes, I felt it was time to get back to my roots reporting across the country,” said King in a network statement.

With the move, King will no longer be seen on the network at a regular time. CNN will continue to air “Inside Politics” at noon eastern, sandwiched between the morning and afternoon editions of “CNN News Central.”

Dana Bash, the network’s chief political correspondent, who also happens to be King’s ex-wife, will take over as anchor of “Inside.”

“I am thrilled to be taking over as anchor of Inside Politics,” said Bash in a statement. “After nearly 30 years at CNN covering campaigns, Capitol Hill and the White House, I am excited to helm a program devoted to the politics that impact Americans’ lives. John built an extraordinary show that has attracted a loyal audience of political junkies, and I am looking forward to leading its next chapter.”

Bash will continue to co-anchor “State of the Union,” the network’s weekly Sunday morning public affairs program.

Beyond the prepared statement of King saying he wanted to return to reporting, CNN did not offer any other explanation for the assignment changes.

Under King, “Inside” ranks second in cable news, according to CNN, so it’s possible the network is hoping an anchor change could spike ratings against “Outnumbered” on Fox and “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC.

King, who is 59 and lives with multiple sclerosis, could also be looking to cut back on his schedule.

CNN is also in the midst of trying to reinvent itself, with the “News Central” concept of three-hour news blocks accompanied by visual storytelling filling the bulk of the dayside schedule and a new morning show, “CNN This Morning” that recently lost one of its co-anchors. It also has opted to devote its 9 p.m. hour to 60-minute specials driven by the news cycle.

So far these changes appear to have had little effect on turning the network’s flailing ratings around.

It’s not uncommon for networks to seemingly demote talent by moving them into special assignment roles. CNN’s announcement notably did not refer to the changes as a demotion for King, though most talent would see it as a diminished role.

In some cases, the anchors do end up consistently working on these types of assignments, while others in similar situations have slowly faded away before departing altogether. Moving an anchor or reporter into a special role such as King’s is also a common way to transition the talent into retirement, though none of this was mentioned in CNN’s announcement.

Bash and King were married from 2008 to 2012, with King converting to Judaism ahead of the wedding.