Jake Tapper leaves ABC, jumps to CNN

Media deck-shuffling isn’t our usual beat but he’s built enough respect among conservatives as an atypically fair reporter that this is worth a post.

Alternate headline: “CNN watchable again.”

Tapper will anchor a weekday program on CNN. TVNewser hears it will be the 4pmET hour, currently filled by “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

Tapper’s departure, which has been speculated about since earlier this year, was announced by ABC News president Ben Sherwood in a memo to staffers this afternoon. “A ferocious reporter – and now a best-selling author – he has built a reputation as one of the most prolific and multi-talented journalists on the beat, scoring scoop after scoop,” Sherwood wrote.

People on Twitter are back-slapping new CNN prez Jeff Zucker for making a splash by signing him but rumors about Tapper being lured away appeared months before Zucker joined the network. Fishbowl DC had something about it back in May; Tapper responded at the time by saying, “Being the White House correspondent for ABC News is a dream job, one I’m focused on 100%. I couldn’t be happier where I am right now.” Ahem. Assuming there’s any truth in that, ABC must have failed to match CNN’s offer in some respect. Dave Weigel speaks for many, I think, when he says this:

Anyway. Where’s Tapper going to end up at CNN? The Fishbowl piece excerpted above says 4 p.m. ET but I assume that’s a temporary gig aimed at introducing him to viewers and getting his feet wet at hosting his own daily show. I’ve already seen a few tweets hoping he’ll replace this shrieking tool at 9 p.m., but Morgan’s poor ratings have improved lately and are bound to improve further, alas, after his grandstanding over Sandy Hook. CNN’s got room to maneuver in primetime, though: Right now they’re airing a re-run of Anderson Cooper at 10 p.m., so they could drop that and then schedule Tapper, Cooper, Morgan, and Erin Burnett any way they like from 7 to 11. Putting JT at 9 would be an interesting experiment considering that, with Hannity and Maddow both airing, it’s currently the most ideologically polarized hour on cable news. Is there room in there for a smart straight-news show? Hannity and Maddow are both ratings behemoths by cable-news standards, so maybe not. Maybe Tapper’s better off at 10 opposite Greta and Scary Larry O’Donnell.