ABC News senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper becomes the first major on-air personality to make an announced switch to the newly Jeff Zucker-ed CNN.
He’ll anchor a new weekday program that’ll debut next year. He’ll also become chief Washington correspondent at the Time Warner cable news network that’s wrapping up 2012 with fewer viewers than either Fox News Channel or MSNBC.
“With CNN’s impeccable reporting during the elections and the exciting changes in the works for the network, this is a perfect time to join the CNN team,” Tapper said in a statement sent out Thursday afternoon, adding, “I am excited about the prospect of working with both the new leadership and some old friends and colleagues.”
Zucker — the NBC News wunderkind who shot up through the ranks of that network to become chief executive of NBC Universal — was last month named new president of the ratings-challenged cable news network because he is a “magnet for talent,” said Phil Kent, CEO of CNN-parent Turner Broadcasting.
Zucker officially takes office at the end of January.
Tapper has been ABC’s senior White House correspondent since shortly after the 2008 presidential election.
A major player in ABC News’s coverage of the 2012 election, Tapper will be remembered as the guy who, on election night, set the record straight when ABC News analyst Matt Dowd told viewers this “may be the last election that we see two white men run against each other for president.”
Tapper took a moment from inside Obama headquarters in Chicago to say: “I just want to make sure that everybody is clear on the fact that Barack Obama is not white. Has that been established? . . . I have this breaking news flash: Barack Obama is African American. If somebody could tell Matt, that’d be great.”
Prior to joining ABC, Tapper was Washington correspondent, then national correspondent, for Salon. He began his journalism career at Washington City Paper. He wrote a political comic strip, “Capitol Hell,” which appeared in Roll Call from 1994 to 2003.
It’s not Tapper’s first gig at CNN. He appeared on the network in 2001, including co-hosting “Take 5,” a weekend program that featured young journalists talking about politics and pop culture.
ABC News President Ben Sherwood spilled the beans about Tapper’s CNN move earlier Thursday afternoon, when he told his staff that Capitol Hill correspondent Jonathan Karl had been upped to ABC’s chief White House correspondent and Martha Raddatz had been named chief global affairs correspondent, mentioning: “Jake is leaving ABC for an opportunity at CNN.”
To read previous columns by Lisa de Moraes, go to washingtonpost.com/tvblog.