‘CNN This Morning’ Taps Phil Mattingly to Replace Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins

The network’s chief White House correspondent will co-anchor the show with Poppy Harlow, who has been holding down the fort since Lemon was abruptly fired in April and Collins was moved into a primetime role

<p>CNN (2)</p> Phil Mattingly and Poppy Harlow

CNN (2)

Phil Mattingly and Poppy Harlow

CNN has tapped Phil Mattingly to replace Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins on CNN This Morning after the show saw two of its three co-anchors shuffled out within weeks of each other. He will anchor the show alongside Poppy Harlow.

Mattingly, 37, was named CNN’s chief White House correspondent in late 2022, replacing Collins after she moved to New York for the launch of CNN This Morning. He will now follow in her footsteps again, bringing his political background — which includes covering the White House, Capitol Hill, the Justice Department and presidential campaigns — to the show each morning.

Opening up to PEOPLE in December about the challenges of covering politics in such a tense climate, Mattingly explained that “trust” in media is the number one issue he seeks to overcome with his reporting.

“I’m not naïve enough to think one reporter or one team can address all of the issues,” he told PEOPLE at the time. “But I firmly believe that every day we go to work — every story we write, every television package we put together, every live shot we do — there’s an opportunity to break through and deliver news that gives people a clear and unvarnished window into what’s happening in their elected government.”

Related: Poppy Harlow Knows What She’s Looking for in Her Next ‘CNN This Morning’ Co-Anchor (Exclusive)

Doug Mills/The New York Times Phil Mattingly will transition to co-anchoring "CNN This Morning" after serving as chief White House correspondent

Doug Mills/The New York Times Phil Mattingly will transition to co-anchoring “CNN This Morning” after serving as chief White House correspondent

After the departures of Lemon and Collins left Harlow as the only permanent anchor of CNN This Morning, she told PEOPLE that she had been working closely with CNN executives to select a new on-air partner that would help seamlessly carry the show into its new chapter.

“We’re talking constantly about the characteristics of the person that I’ll get to sit next to, what matters most to me and what the best fit is for the team,” Harlow, 41, said in July. “I really care about sitting next to someone who lifts up [our off-camera] team, who cares about the goals of the team, who is kind, who is funny.”

“Humor is very important to me, especially when you’re waking up in the middle of the night,” she said. “Obviously I miss having Don and Kaitlan by my side, but I’m excited for what’s ahead.”

Related: Poppy Harlow Is Guided by Lessons from Family as She Leads ‘CNN This Morning’ into New Chapter (Exclusive)

<p>Mike Coppola/Getty Images</p> Kaitlan Collins, Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow attend the 16th annual CNN Heroes on Dec. 11, 2022. The three comprised the original anchor team on "CNN This Morning," which debuted in November 2022.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Kaitlan Collins, Don Lemon and Poppy Harlow attend the 16th annual CNN Heroes on Dec. 11, 2022. The three comprised the original anchor team on “CNN This Morning,” which debuted in November 2022.

Lemon, 57, was a 17-year veteran of CNN who had been co-anchoring CNN This Morning with Collins and Harlow from November 2022 until his dramatic firing on April 24.

Then Collins, on the heels of a controversial May town hall with former President Donald Trump, was promoted into Chris Cuomo’s former primetime slot and also taken off the morning show.

The announcement of Lemon’s termination was the talk of the media world in April, stunning not only viewers but apparently the anchor himself, who claimed he was informed by his agent — not the network — that he no longer had a job.

“After 17 years at CNN I would have thought that someone in management would have had the decency to tell me directly,” he noted on Twitter.

Related: ‘Everyone Is Shocked’ by Don Lemon’s Sudden CNN Firing, Insiders Say (Exclusive)

Soon after Lemon’s tweet, CNN pushed back on how his termination unfolded.

“Don Lemon’s statement about this morning’s events is inaccurate,” CNN Communications tweeted. “He was offered an opportunity to meet with management but instead released a statement on Twitter.”

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Don Lemon

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Don Lemon

Related: A Timeline of CNN Host Don Lemon’s Controversies

In February, Lemon was off the air for several days after making controversial comments about presidential hopeful Nikki Haley, who he said was “past her prime.”

Lemon swiftly issued an apology for the comment, writing on social media several hours later, “The reference I made to a woman’s ‘prime’ this morning was inartful and irrelevant, as colleagues and loved ones have pointed out, and I regret it. A woman’s age doesn’t define her either personally or professionally. I have countless women in my life who prove that every day.”

Following his controversial remarks, Lemon “agreed to participate in formal training” and was back on air after less than a week.

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Then, a confrontational interview Lemon conducted in April with Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was cited as leaving “several CNN leaders exasperated” and is rumored to have contributed to the decision to let him go.

Two days after his firing, Lemon appeared at the Time 100 Gala in New York City. “You guys are more worried about me than I am,” he said on the red carpet. “Life goes on. That’s behind me, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”

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