The fledgling cable-TV network that has hired Chris Cuomo to host a primetime show this fall is already asking staffers to promote the disgraced anchor — and some aren’t happy about it.
Cuomo, whose old 9 p.m. CNN show “Cuomo Prime Time” averaged 1 million nightly viewers in its final year, is being heralded by the brass at NewsNation as a savior for the network — a message that’s provoking grumbling among the rank and file, sources told On the Money.
“This is going to be like SiriusXM — with Chris instead of Howard Stern,” one source griped.
Employees at NewsNation — launched less than two years ago, with ratings that are a tiny fraction of CNN’s — are likewise bristling over a recent request to plug Cuomo’s new show at the bottom of their email signatures, sources told On the Money.
“It’s all about Chris,” said another apoplectic source. “Can you believe they are asking employees to all plug Chris and not their own shows?”
The Cuomo email signature — which shows the 52-year-old talking head against a blue background with the plug “coming this fall to NewsNation” — stands in contrast to the network’s typical email signatures which depict all of its top anchors, sources said.
Staffers for anchor Ashleigh Banfield — who hosts the 10 p.m. hour and who was among NewsNation’s first big hires with a resume that boasted stints at CNN and MSNBC — are particularly peeved, according to insiders.
“She was meant to be the Rachel Maddow of the network,” according to the source, comparing Banfield to the MSNBC star. “Now here comes Chris, the big swinging d–k.”
As reported by The Post, the Nexstar-owned network is building a brand new, New York studio for Cuomo in its Midtown offices at 220 E. 42nd St. by the United Nations. Banfield, by contrast, is shooting her show from her home in Darien, Conn., while her production staff works from NewsNation’s Chicago headquarters, according to a source.
The source added that while NewsNation has a studio set aside for her in its Midtown offices, Banfield has “refused” to use it because it’s “too small.”
Banfield did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A person close to the situation told The Post that there are no plans to move Banfield to a renovated space in the Midtown office. Accordingly, some on team Banfield, best known for her legal analysis, now feel like they’re playing second fiddle — with some boycotting the Cuomo promo altogether, a source with knowledge said.
Further triggering staffers is news that Dan Abrams, the network’s 9 p.m. host, who already broadcasts from the Big Apple, will also get a studio in the same building as Cuomo this fall.
Cuomo, a self-professed friend of Abrams, announced on the host’s show that he was joining NewsNation this fall in what critics have likened to a marriage of convenience. The Post broke the news that Cuomo will be taking the 8 p.m. slot starting Oct. 3.
“Chris Cuomo is simply the latest addition to NewsNation’s expanding roster of talented, experienced journalists,” a rep for NewsNation said. ” As we have since our launch two years ago, we ask our staff to help promote all of our shows, especially the new ones, as much as possible, in as many ways as possible.”
NewsNation execs hope Cuomo — who they got at a steep discount — can juice the fledgling network’s anemic ratings. Meanwhile the scandal-scarred Cuomo, fired from CNN last year over his role in advising his older brother, then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, gets a chance to return to the air.
Abrams, for his part, has slammed the media for taking shots at the network on his show, telling viewers that the “politicized media wants NewsNation to fail” amid reports of the hire and the network’s low ratings.
“In the media landscape full of extremists, a network that gives voice to a moderate point of view is an outlier, or a disrupter, who represents an existentialist threat to a media which, for so long, has profited off of driving us to the fringes,” Abrams said.
During a recent internal meeting, NewsNation’s president of news programming Michael Corn played a mash-up of Abrams’ best zingers to rally staffers, but he didn’t address the ratings. Despite any bruised egos ahead of Cuomo’s arrival, employees generally were hoping the anchor would be able to juice the puny ratings.
NewsNation is averaging a paltry 50,000 total viewers in primetime and only 8,000 of those viewers come from the all-important 25-54 age demographic coveted by advertisers.
By comparison, CNN, which is in last place among the Big 3 cable news networks, has 15 times as many primetime viewers as NewsNation, averaging 762,000 total viewers and 190,00 viewers aged 25-54.
No. 1 Fox News gets 2.4 million in primetime and 375,000 viewers in the demo. MSNBC pulls 1.2 million total primetime viewers and 136,000 in the key demo.
On Monday, NewsNation added a trio of hires, bringing on a former CNBC contributor and Fox Business producer Jake Novak as deputy managing editor, Ali Bradley, a news anchor for K2TV in Casper, Wyo., as a southwest correspondent, and Haley Turner, a former Fox News senior producer as senior producer for “On Balance with Leland Vittert.”