CNN boss Chris Licht’s reported talks with NBA great Charles Barkley to host a primetime show on the ratings-challenged news network were mocked by basketball fans and TV critics.
Licht wants Barkley to fill the 9 pm hole left open since disgraced anchor Chris Cuomo was fired from the network in 2021, according to Puck News.
The report said the show would have the NBA Hall of Famer and current TNT “Inside the NBA” host interview “newsmakers, journalists, and other guests about various topics of the day.”
TNT and CNN are both owned by parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.
The notion that Barkley can be CNN’s next Larry King landed like one of the bricks the “Round Mound of Rebound” was famous for snagging.
“I like Chuck…this would be an EPIC FAIL on CNN’s part,” one fan wrote.
“It’s almost comical what Licht thinks will be good for the network and what people want. None of his moves have improved the content or their performance,” added one critic.
Chief among Licht’s questionable shakeups was the overhaul of CNN’s morning programming. He installed failed primetime anchor Don Lemon along Kaitlan Collins and Poppy Harlow to co-host a new “CNN This Morning.”
But the show has been a ratings flop and tensions between Lemon and Collins boiled over when Lemon allegedly chewing out his colleague off camera last December.
Now Licht’s purported plan to revamp the network’s primetime programming by peppering in some entertainment-driven personalities to juice the ratings has also been panned.
“Won’t work. CNN is going in the wrong direction,” one fan tweeted.
One Barkley detractor added that the NBA star has been criticized for his opinions on hot-button issues in the past.
“Barkley has garbage opinions on a lot of social matters. money has distanced him from the realities that many people, particularly people of color, go through in their everyday. can’t really take words of a guy who takes private jets to get around as a voice of justice & reason.”
In 2020, the former Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers forward got slammed for saying that the shooting of Breonna Taylor shouldn’t be “lumped in” with other high-profile shootings of unarmed black people.
“I don’t think this one was like George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery and things like that,” Barkley said. “I feel sad that this young lady lost her life. I think this one was — the no-knock warrant is something we need to get rid of … across the board. But I am worried to lump all these situations in together.”
“What is Charles Barkley talking about???????????????” journalist Britni Danielle wrote at the time. “This [Brianna Taylor’s death] isn’t like Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd. You’re right. It’s not, because she was at home, asleep in her bed. TF???”
Still, some Hollywood insiders think the move could make sense.
“Licht is exploring all kinds of names for multi-week stints,” one source said of the potential Barkley hire. “You could see him interviewing people, talking about race, politics, culture, whatever.”
“It could be brilliant,” another source added.
The Post reached out to CNN and Barkley for comment.
Last month, Puck reported that Licht approached “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King to host a weekly show in a deal that would allow her to retain her day job at CBS. Although sources questioned why CBS would agree to that arrangement and added that it would mean long hours for King, it wasn’t unheard of.
A rep from CNN gave the same comment for Puck’s King report when asked about a Barkely hire: “Chris is having conversations with dozens of culturally relevant individuals from the worlds of news, sports, entertainment and comedy.”
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