Has Jeff Zucker lost his morning mojo?
After CNN’s morning show “New Day” brought in another month of disappointing ratings in February — down 9 percent in viewers since 2018, and 15 percent since 2017 — industry sources wondered why the show’s still slumbering.
“Zucker ran the ‘Today’ show and is supposed to be a morning TV show guru,” sniffed a coffee-soaked source, “but he has yet to get CNN going in the morning show race.”
Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” sits in 18th position among all the cable news shows (no doubt with help of frequent presidential shout-outs on Twitter) and MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” is 25th on the list. “New Day” is way down in 42nd.
An insider said, “ ‘Fox and Friends’ just wins, but ‘Morning Joe’ is thought of as ‘the most influential’ show. It doesn’t have the biggest numbers, but it’s really pitched at the New York and Beltway insiders. It thinks of itself as setting the agenda.” But the source said that “New Day” has struggled to find a niche.
We’re told that the show has been a “pet project” of Zucker — who became the executive producer of NBC’s “Today” in 1992, at age 26 — but that when the network shifted the show’s first male anchor, Chris Cuomo, (poached from ABC for the gig) to prime time last year, it was perceived as “throwing in the towel” on the morning show.
Our sources aren’t the first to compare Zucker’s travails with “New Day” to his experience at NBC.
When he launched the show in 2013, Zucker said, “I remember back when we put the ‘Today’ show team together in 1996 with Katie [Couric],Matt [Lauer], Al [Roker] and Ann [Curry], it was a new generation, and they were new faces and new voices and generationally different than what was on morning television at the time.”
He said his lineup for “New Day” — then Kate Bolduan and Cuomo — had the same feel, “and I think that’s our opportunity and what I’m excited about.”