It is also Mr. Licht’s latest attempt to revive his network’s sagging ratings.
The 9 p.m. hour at CNN — once its highest-rated time slot — has effectively been vacant since Chris Cuomo was fired in December 2021. Mr. Licht’s recent attempt to fill the hour with a variety of interviews and news specials fizzled with viewers. On weeknights, CNN lags behind Fox News and MSNBC, and on Friday, two days after the Trump town hall, it even lost to Newsmax, a fledgling conservative network that is available in fewer homes.
Ms. Collins, who joined CNN in 2017 as a reporter covering the Trump White House, brings a youthful jolt to a programming block that for years has been hosted by middle-aged male anchors.
An Alabama native who cut her teeth at the conservative news site The Daily Caller, Ms. Collins is prized by Mr. Licht for her perceived ability to connect with viewers outside of coastal liberal enclaves. She became the network’s chief White House correspondent in 2021 at age 28, the youngest person to hold the role, and covered President Biden before moving to New York last year as a co-host of “CNN This Morning.”
She is also well respected in the political media and had been slated to serve as president of the White House Correspondents’ Association beginning in 2024. (She had to forgo the role after relocating from Washington.)
In April, Ms. Collins did a weeklong stint as temporary host of CNN’s 9 p.m. hour. She drew favorable ratings, with executives taking notice that she was able to retain much of Anderson Cooper’s lead-in audience from 8 p.m.