What CNN isn’t saying about its rising star Kaitlan Collins

By Matt Collins Article may include affiliate links

After CNN announced it’s moving Kaitlan Collins to the critical 9 p.m. hour, the network P.R. team has been quick to point out her experience at the network.

She’s had what many see as a meteoric rise — becoming the network’s youngest White House correspondent and then being selected to co-anchor the network’s high profile revamp of its morning program.

What CNN isn’t publicizing is one key part of her resume — the time when she worked for the conservative digital outlet The Daily Caller.

In fact, she was reportedly hired directly by Tucker Carlson, who once dominated the ratings at Fox before being suddenly fired earlier in 2023.

During that time, she also appeared on Fox’s conservative commentary channel, even making anti-CNN comments at times. She also doubled down on some George Soros conspiracy theories on “Fox & Friends.”

CEO Chris Licht was brought in by Warner Bros. Discovery management to replace Jeff Zucker, who resigned after it was revealed he was involved in a consensual relationship with a subordinate, a violation of then-owner WarnerMedia’s policies.

Licht was also reportedly charged with making CNN more balanced — after years under Zucker’s leadership show the network become critical of Trump, many of his policies and the GOP in general. It even got to the point where Trump himself took to calling CNN out as “fake news.”

CNN countered with a “facts are facts” campaign and still continued to advertise itself as “the most trusted name in news.”

Along the way, the network also saw its ratings decline, typically falling behind MSNBC and Fox. More recently, the right wing channel Newsmax is also beating MSNBC and CNN.

The network’s new owners reportedly see bringing more balance to the network’s coverage as a key way to boost viewership. So far Licht’s biggest moves have been to re-launching its morning show as “CNN This Morning,” revamping dayside hours as “CNN News Central” and making 9 p.m. a rotating series of “events.”

So far, “CNN This Morning,” the show Collins is leaving to appear at 9 p.m., hasn’t been a ratings smash and typically finishes behind MSNBC. “CNN News Central” hasn’t been a huge ratings success either and the 9 p.m. single-topic events billed under the name “CNN Primetime” were hyped up but failed to garner significant audiences. The network appeared to pivot recently and started producing more traditional newscasts in the period.

It’s not clear what format Collins’ show will take, though initial press releases appear to indicate she will cover the “stories” of the day, which could be suggestive that it won’t take the single-topic focus approach that “Primetime” started with.

It does appear that Collins has toned down the biased rhetoric since her days at the Daily Caller, though it certainly is a bit of a blemish on her resume that CNN isn’t eager to promote.

She did, during a primetime town hall produced by CNN with Donald Trump, attempt to blatantly fact-check his numerous lies and conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and other topics. She called claims that the election was rigged untrue and also called out his statements about the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, so it does appear her ideology is at least somewhat grounded in reality, assuming she believes what she said.

Her interjections were mostly limited because Trump tended to talk over her and he was surrounded by a largely pro-Trump audience who would applaud when he spouted misinformation or attacked Collins, CNN or other outlets. CNN was heavily criticized for the event, which some compared to the network airing a Trump rally.