NewsNation, the nascent Chicago-based cable news network, is adding former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo to its prime-time lineup this fall.
The announcement Tuesday night by Cuomo, who appeared as a guest on the network’s “Dan Abrams Live” show, brings both star power and some baggage to NewsNation, which has yet to build a significant audience since launching nearly two years ago.
Cuomo, 51, who long hosted the top-rated prime-time show on CNN, was fired in December for allegedly violating network standards by advising his brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as he navigated sexual harassment allegations. In March, Cuomo filed a demand for arbitration against CNN, seeking $125 million in damages for alleged unlawful termination.
While Cuomo declined to discuss the litigation against CNN Tuesday night — his first national interview since being fired — he defended the essence of his high-profile case against his former employer.
“There are a lot of facts that I believe are going to come out,” Cuomo said. “I never lied and there were no secrets.”
A staple on CNN for nearly a decade, Cuomo joined the cable network in 2013 as co-host of the “New Day” morning show, shifting to “Cuomo Prime Time” in 2018, which became the highest-rated show in CNN’s evening lineup. Before that, Cuomo, an attorney, was co-anchor of ABC’s “20/20″ and chief law correspondent for ABC News. He started at ABC in 2006 as news anchor at “Good Morning America,” and previously worked at Fox News.
The time slot for Cuomo’s new one-hour show on NewsNation has yet to be disclosed. While the main NewsNation studios are in Chicago, Cuomo will broadcast his show from New York, where Abrams also does his show.
In a letter to staffers Tuesday evening, NewsNation President Michael Corn called Cuomo’s hiring “a big step forward as we build ourselves into a world-class 24-hour news channel over the next year.”
In the letter, which was obtained by the Tribune, Corn announced that Cuomo’s show will be helmed by veteran executive producer Alexandra “Dusty” Cohen, who spent 20 years at ABC’s “The View,” which she helped launch.
Corn, a longtime executive producer at ABC News, left the network in April 2021 and joined NewsNation as president the following month amid allegations he sexually assaulted “at least” two female employees during his 18 years as a rising producer at ABC. A lawsuit brought by a former ABC “Good Morning America” producer against Corn was dismissed last month by a New York judge who ruled the statute of limitations had run out.
NewsNation, formerly WGN America, was reinvented as a cable news network in September 2020 under Dallas-based owner Nexstar Media Group. It bought WGN America in 2019 as part of its $4.1 billion acquisition of Chicago-based Tribune Media.
The network currently airs 11 hours of live news programming each day, with plans to go 24/7 by 2024. Corn has shaken up the on-air lineup and expanded news programming from prime-time to mornings, but NewsNation, which pledges to deliver unbiased reporting and take a bite out of the more established cable news networks, is still struggling to build its audience.
NewsNation, which reaches 75 million homes, ranked 91st among all cable networks in prime-time during the week ending July 17 with an average of 44,000 viewers, according to Nielsen.
Fox News ranked first in prime-time with an average of nearly 2.2 million viewers, followed by MSNBC at 1.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen. CNN ranked 10th in prime-time with 660,000 viewers.
Cuomo, who claimed in his arbitration demand that CNN’s “calculated efforts to tar and feather him” made him “untouchable in the world of broadcast journalism,” welcomed the opportunity to return to prime-time cable news, albeit with a smaller megaphone.
“I had decided that I can’t go back to what people see as the big game,” Cuomo told Abrams on the air Tuesday. “I don’t think I can make a difference there. I think we need insurgent media.”
NewsNation has about 150 anchors, producers, editors and researchers working at its newsroom inside the 60-year-old WGN-TV studios on West Bradley Place in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood. The network also leverages the resources of Nexstar’s 110 TV newsrooms and 5,500 journalists to provide coverage.