Kaitlan Collins became CNN’s youngest White House correspondent last year, at the age of 28. On Tuesday, she took on a more prominent role: co-hosting a morning news program of strategic importance to the network’s future.
But thanks to easy screen presence and hard-earned reporting, I’ve now jumped into the co-chair of the recently launched “CNN This Morning” show — an attempt by new network leader Chris Licht to reinvent the block of programming that has long left its cable rivals behind. Newsletter in the rating.
The big task required moving from Washington to New York, which was not part of Collins’ immediate plan. It meant giving up a scheduled assignment as president of the White House Correspondents Association in 2024, another honor usually reserved for senior reporters.
But Licht offered her his vision to match her in the morning with former prime-time host Don Lemon, 56, and veteran broadcaster Bobby Harlow, 40. “I didn’t even think to say ‘no,'” Collins recalls. “It’s a huge challenge for me.”
In an interview, Licht called Collins the “absolute complete package,” praising her reporting skills and her on-screen news delivery.
“One of the great things about Kaitlan Collins is that she wasn’t pretending to be anything else,” he said. “She was definitely not looking for anything. She was very happy to do what she was doing, and she did it well.” Collins will remain a reporter, as requested by Licht, and will split her time between the Manhattan set and assignments across the country in an additional role as lead reporter for the show.
Collins, 30, began her career at Daily Caller, a right-leaning pugnacious website co-founded by Tucker Carlson, where she was promoted after two years of rumors to a 2016 campaign win, Then in early 2017 to the White House Correspondent. While covering the Trump White House, she began getting reservations for an occasional talk show appearance on CNN.
“I thought it was really nice to be this reporter for a website with conservative leanings and I could go to CNN, and the question wasn’t for me to explain Trump’s actions but was, ‘What are your reporting? “You remember.
That spring, I called then-CNN President Jeff Zucker at a lunch after the White House Correspondents’ Dinner to thank him for the opportunities. That started a series of conversations that led to her joining the network as a reporter by mid-2017. “You can only tell there’s something very special about her, even at a young age,” Zucker told The Post.
Her Daily Caller pedigree has done little to overcome the Trump administration’s skepticism in the mainstream media. In July 2018, Collins was denied a Rose Garden press conference after he asked the president persistent questions about Vladimir Putin and his former lawyer Michael Cohen at a photo booth in the Oval Office. When press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called her an “activist” a few weeks into the 2020 election, Collins stepped back from the front row and responded even more forcefully on Twitter, writing: “Understandable why someone hasn’t done their job – answering questions from reporters – within weeks He will confuse another person doing his work with the activity.”
Note her colleagues. “What I really liked was how uninspiring she was in the boardroom,” said Maggie Haberman, a reporter for the New York Times. “She’s stubborn and aggressive, and people like to talk to her.”
Including, apparently, former President Trump. “Every time she was on Air Force One, he wanted to come over and talk to her,” said the White House reporter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preserve relations.
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Collins has conservative and liberal admirers—a tough job in an age of political polarization. “She makes it her thing to know everyone, and she has a good word for everyone,” said Tammy Haddad, a longtime veteran media veteran in D.C.
However, left-wing critics still speak of her early association with the Daily Caller as cause for concern. Collins was hit by a brief scandal in 2018, when LGBTQ community advocacy group Log Cabin Republicans resurfaced tweets she sent in 2011.And the While she was a teenager at the University of Alabama, she used anti-gay language. Collins made a simple mistake: “She was immature but she doesn’t represent the way I feel at all. I’m so sorry and I apologize.”
Today, Collins asserts that her experience working for a conservative news site and growing up in the deep red state of Alabama provided a useful perspective on politics and the rise of Trump. “I think I learned a lot from this job,” Collins said.
When asked if she thinks people have chosen her politically because of her time working on The Daily Caller, Collins said she was “totally apolitical,” adding that “if people expect things to happen, that’s fine.” “I don’t even know what her policy is,” Licht said.
But to succeed as a traditional morning show host, perhaps Collins needs to move beyond sober news reports and introduce her character to viewers. An avid college football fanAnd the Collins wore a Wonder Woman shirt during a Zoom interview with The Post. (Will you wear it live? She said she’s not sure.)
While morning shows have the potential to make big advertising bucks, CNN’s morning show (known as “New Day” until this week) has regularly ranked third in major Nielsen categories, behind competitors “Fox & Friends” and “Morning Joe.” on MSNBC, and far less than the large audiences generated by the morning shows on ABC, NBC, and CBS. “My hope and belief is that we can create our own lane into something now undeliverable,” said Licht, who was announced as a programming guru for his fix of CBS morning show, and helped create “Morning Joe.”
Collins was among CNN stars angry at the sudden ouster of Zucker in February. In an internal meeting, I questioned Jason Keeler, who oversaw the network’s parent company at the time, about the decision, according to an audio recording obtained by The Post at the time. (Killer replied, “I would never answer that line of questions.”)
However, despite her close ties to Zucker, Collins has built a good relationship with Licht, which has been trying to reposition CNN as a more down-to-earth news brand since its merger with Discovery this year — a strategy that has angered some CNN journalists and producers, especially After Licht fired press correspondent Brian Stelter and White House correspondent John Harwood.
“I think Chris is doing a great job, he’s very invested, and he has very good news values,” Collins said. “And I realized that early on. If you are a reporter who cares about reporting, this is what you want.”