CNN’s Jake Tapper Will Leave Primetime and Return to Afternoons After Midterms

The cable news veteran will continue hosting “The Lead” at 4 p.m.

Jake Tapper, WarnerMedia Upfront 2019 - Arrivals
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CNN anchor Jake Tapper will leave primetime and return to afternoons to host “The Lead” after the midterm elections, a network spokesperson told TheWrap.

“As part of a special lineup, Jake agreed to anchor the 9p hour through the midterm elections,” the spokesperson said. “At the completion of that schedule, he’ll be returning to his award-winning program ‘The Lead.’”

The source also said the network will announce post-election plans for that time slot in the coming days.

Though some have speculated Tapper’s time in primetime was an experiment by CNN CEO Chris Licht to boost primetime ratings — a goal left unfulfilled as Tapper has been outperformed in terms of ratings both MSNBC’s “Alex Wagner Tonight” and Fox News’ “Hannity” — sources say there was no expectation for Tapper to shift to the primetime gig after midterms. as TheWrap first reported Wednesday morning.

“Chris asked Jake to take over the 9 p.m. slot temporarily through midterms and there’s no expectation on either side that the evening slot would become permanent,” one CNN insider with knowledge of the situation told TheWrap.

The midterm programming changes, which include hosts John Berman and Brianna Keilar filling in the cable news veteran on “The Lead” while Tapper has been anchoring “CNN Tonight” in the 9 p.m. ET slot, began Oct. 10 and will continue through Nov. 11.