After earning its worst primetime monthly ratings in 20 years in May, CNN is cancelling the 6 p.m. show "John King, USA" and extending Wolf Blitzer's "The Situation Room" to three hours.
King, who will become CNN's lead national campaign correspondent, will contribute to the 4-to-7 p.m. "Situation Room," as well as Anderson Cooper's "AC360" and other shows.
In a memo to staff, CNN president of U.S. operations Ken Jautz characterized the shifts as "a change we are making to bolster our political coverage heading into the critical stretch of the 2012 campaign." But the move may also allow CNN to find a stronger lead-in to its primetime schedule, whether that turns out to be "The Situation Room" or something else.
King's show will end June 29, and the "Situation Room" will extend to three hours on July 2.
Jautz said making King available "across our programming lineup allows us to better tap his skills and experience, especially on the ground reporting in major battleground states and among critical voting blocs."
Jautz also announced that Joe Johns will become the network's crime and justice correspondent, covering the Supreme Court and the criminal justice system, and that senior producer Suzanne Kelly will become CNN's intelligence correspondent, covering national security and intelligence community.
CNN ended last month by adding ABC News' John Berman to its 5 a.m. show "Early Start" and announcing that celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain would leave the Travel Channel to begin a CNN cooking and travel show in early 2013.
Here is Jautz's internal memo:
I wanted to inform you of a change we are making to bolster our political coverage heading into the critical stretch of the 2012 campaign. Beginning next month, John King will shift roles and become our lead national campaign correspondent. As a result, Situation Room will air from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., and John will be providing reports for SitRoom, AC360 and other programs and CNN platforms. This is John's seventh presidential campaign, fourth with CNN, and making him available across our programming lineup allows us to better tap his skills and experience, especially on the ground reporting in major battleground states and among critical voting blocs.
Additionally, we are expanding our news coverage in Washington. With landmark decisions on the horizon, I'm very pleased to announce that Joe Johns will be taking on a new role as the CNN Crime and Justice Correspondent, covering the Supreme Court and the criminal justice system. Joe, who holds a law degree, has received national recognition for his crime and law enforcement reporting in DC. We are also expanding our coverage of national security and we will be adding a new correspondent to the Washington Bureau. Senior Producer Suzanne Kelly will become CNN's Intelligence Correspondent covering national security and the intelligence community. Suzanne is an acclaimed author who published a detailed account of Blackwater¹s role in the Iraq War.
These changes will help us provide groundbreaking reporting and more depth of coverage of the important issues facing our viewers. As always, if you have any questions, please don¹t hesitate to ask. Ken