Chris Cuomo Exits ABC News for CNN

Chris Cuomo NY Comedy Festival - P 2013
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Chris Cuomo NY Comedy Festival - P 2013

UPDATED: The "20/20" anchor follows Jake Tapper as the second ABC News correspondent to leave the broadcast network for CNN.

Chris Cuomo is leaving ABC News for CNN. Cuomo, the younger brother of New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, will be the lead anchor on a revamped morning program at CNN. The announcement came Tuesday from CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker, who is cutting quite a swath through the TV news ranks since he officially stepped into his new job earlier this month.

Cuomo, of course, is no stranger to morning TV viewers, having spent three years as the news reader on ABC's Good Morning America. But he was passed over for the co-host spot that went to George Stephanopoulos was tapped to lead the show in 2009. Since then he has been ABC's chief legal correspondent and one of the co-anchors of primetime newsmagazine 20/20.

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In addition to mornings where Cuomo is likely to be paired with Erin Burnett, Cuomo will become among the network's lead anchors on breaking news, a role that Anderson Cooper has staked out at the network. 

“Chris is an accomplished anchor who is already an established name in morning television, as well as a widely respected investigative journalist,” said Zucker in a statement. “What I love about Chris is that he is passionate about every story he tells, never forgets about the viewer, and represents the type of journalism that makes CNN great.”

It’s unclear where Cuomo's hire leaves Starting Point anchor Soledad O’Brien, who was moved back to mornings last year and also anchors longform specials on CNN including Black in America and Latino in America. But her show has generated some of CNN’s worst morning ratings, and new CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker -- who made his bones at NBC News as executive producer of Today -- has made mornings a high priority at CNN.

Added Cuomo: “This is a fantastic opportunity to do what I value the most and hopefully to do the work that I do best. While it’s very difficult to leave ABC News, a place filled with people I have loved working with for many years, I am excited about my future with CNN."

Cuomo is the second ABC News anchor to defect to CNN in recent months. Well-regarded Washington reporter Jake Tapper left in December. He made his debut last week as CNN’s chief Washington correspondent and will lead his own afternoon show set to debut in the coming months.

In the spring, well before Zucker started at CNN, the cable news network hired longtime ABC News correspondent John Berman for Early Start, which airs from 5-7 a.m. 

Additionally, Mark Whitaker, who joined CNN two years ago as managing editor, announced to CNN staffers Tuesday that he would be departing the network. A replacement will not be named for Whitaker, who came to CNN from NBC News. Rather, Zucker will assume responsibility for the editorial direction of the network.