CNN’s new boss Chris Licht is allegedly in “secret talks” to poach MSNBC mainstays Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, according to a report on Wednesday.
Licht, a longtime TV boss who previously served as executive producer on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and “CBS This Morning,” is interested in hiring Scarborough and Brzezinski while leading an overhaul at CNN, RadarOnline.com reported, citing unnamed sources.
“When CBS hired Chris, he wanted to hire Joe and Mika to head up his morning show instead of Gayle King,” one unidentified source told the outlet.
“Joe and Mika were into it, but they couldn’t get out of their deal with NBC. Now Chris is pulling the same trick again as he starts his new job at CNN hoping this time, he will be able to pull it off,” according to the source.
“It is unlikely MSNBC will let them out of their contract, but Chris is a patient man,” the source added.
The Post could not independently verify the report’s claims. CNN and MSNBC representatives did not immediately return a request for comment.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” debuted in 2007 with Scarborough and Brezezinski serving as co-hosts alongside John Ridley. Scarborough and Brezezinski married in 2018.
“Morning Joe” switched to an expanded four-hour format in April and recently passed its 15-year anniversary on air. Both Scarborough and Brezezinski have contracts running through the end of the year, but are said to be in active negotiations on extensions.
Business Insider reported last fall that the pair had begun early contract discussions with NBC executives regarding their next moves at the network. Puck News reported that Scarborough was seeking $31 million per year from the network for a contract extension.
It’s unclear how adding Scarborough and Brzezinski would fit into the overall CNN strategy being pursued by Licht and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav. Scarborough and Brezezinski are left-leaning hosts at a time when CNN is aiming to shed its reputation for liberal bias and pivot to hard news.
The two executives are aiming to re-focus CNN on straight news coverage rather than left-leaning opinion programming that defined the network under former president Jeff Zucker – who was ousted earlier this year after failing to properly disclose a romantic relationship with a subordinate.
Still, in May, Licht said CNN planned to “reimagine our morning show” beginning this fall.
“[To] be honest there, we are seeking to be a disrupter of the broadcast morning shows in this space, and we believe we have the people and resources who can do it,” Licht said.
Licht is said to be monitoring CNN’s anchors and personalities, with those unable to adopt the network’s focus on non-partisan content potentially facing the ax.
“Chris’ first priority will be fixing CNN’s morning and primetime programming,” sources told RadarOnline. “That is where the big advertiser money is. Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and the morning hosts should be concerned.”
The CNN president has also reportedly told producers to avoid calling former President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen “the big lie,” among other efforts aimed at centrism.
Meanwhile, Scarborough and Brezezinski are among Trump’s most vocal critics and have regularly clashed with him in recent years.