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CNN Keeps Weekday Schedule on Saturday During Intense News Cycle

Variety logo Variety 1/21/2017 Brian Steinberg
© Provided by Variety

It’s Saturday on CNN, which usually means Jake Tapper, Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon and many other Monday-thru-Friday anchors have the day off. That’s not the case this weekend.

The Time Warner-owned cable-news outlet is maintaining nearly all of its weekday schedule today as it seeks to cover an array of protests taking place across the nation today as well as President Donald Trump’s post-inaugural schedule. Jon Berman and Kate Bolduan hosted their regular late-morning hour earlier today, and Brooke Baldwin is expected to take viewers through the late afternoon.  Except for a few tweaks – a Wolf Blitzer-hosted hour this morning and a broadcast of “Smerconish” at 6 p.m. this evening – CNN viewers who don’t take a few minutes to look outside might think it’s just another weekday. Nearly of the hours are based in Washington, D.C., even though several hours are typically broadcast New York.

A CNN spokeswoman confirmed that the network had changed its schedule for the day.

The scheduling shift appears to have been planned in advance, as all the programs were listed in one on-screen programming guide provided on a Cablevision cable system. But it suggests how nimble the cable-news networks will have to become in covering what is expected to be a frenzied news cycle over the next several months. Several TV-news executives have said they expect to cover many initiatives by the Trump administration, as well as reaction to them by Democrats and grass-roots organizations. And all the networks – backed by big media giants like NBCUniversal, Time Warner, 21st Century Fox, CBS Corp. and Walt Disney  – are eager to snare heightened audience interest in events, as well as the ad dollars that often follow it.

CNN isn’t the only news outlet trying to keep pace. Fox News Channel on Saturday had planned late-afternoon and early evening broadcasts of its panel show “The Five,” as well as Bret Baier’s weekday hour, “Special Report.”

The shifts don’t come, presumably, without some logistical hiccups. Saturday, for example, is usually Jake Tapper’s one day off during the week. He anchors both “The Lead” weekdays and Sunday’s “State of the Union.”

But CNN anchors have in recent months become accustomed to impositions on their personal time. Don Lemon, the regular anchor at 10 p.m. and 11 p.m., this summer arranged to come in to the newsroom later in the afternoon after it became evident the lead-up to last year’s election would not allow for vacation time.

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