Poppy Harlow’s offer to stay at CNN an ‘obvious demotion’: sources

Former “CNN This Morning” anchor Poppy Harlow parted ways with the struggling cable news network after turning down an “obvious demotion” from boss Mark Thompson, The Post has learned.

Thompson, who took over last year from ousted CNN chief Chris Licht, offered Harlow the role of chief business correspondent and fill-in anchor after disbanding the morning show, a source with knowledge told The Post.

“After anchoring her own show, going back to being a reporter felt like an obvious demotion,” the source said.

CNN offered Poppy Harlow a chief business correspondent and fill-in anchor position, which she turned down, a source said. Getty Images

“Mark offered Poppy an interesting opportunity but they didn’t see eye to eye,” the network insider said bluntly. “Poppy is leaving on good terms, though.”

The source pointed to the fact that Thompson and other top brass at CNN are planning on giving Harlow a sendoff next Wednesday at a restaurant near the network’s New York offices in Hudson Yards.

CNN declined to comment.

A rep for Harlow did not return requests for comment.

Harlow, who worked at CNN for 16 years, hosted the ill-fated morning show with Kaitlan Collins and Don Lemon, who was fired last year after a series of missteps — including blowing up at Collins off camera and infamously declaring on air that Nikki Haley, then a GOP presidential candidate, was “not in her prime.”

Harlow immediately called out the failed primetime host: “What are you talking about, wait … Prime for what?”

Lemon quickly tried to save himself by claiming he wasn’t stating his personal beliefs — and that his bizarre rant was based on facts that could be gleaned from an internet search.

“That’s not according to me,” he said. “It’s like, prime. If you look it up. If you Google when is a woman in her prime, it’ll say 20s, 30s, and 40s.”

CNN boss Mark Thompson canceled “CNN This Morning,” leaving Harlow and co-host Phil Mattingly without anchor jobs. REUTERS

Harlow ended up storming off the set.

Lemon was briefly pulled off the air and apologized after receiving backlash. Soon after, Collins was bumped up to prime time and Lemon was fired.

Harlow was paired with Phil Mattingly, but Thompson canceled their show in February amid lackluster viewership, installing Kasie Hunt to anchor a more news-driven format based in Washington, DC, from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m.

In January, “CNN This Morning” averaged 322,000 total viewers, while MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” drew 988,000 and Fox’s “Fox & Friends” pulled in 1.07 million.

The cancellation left the futures of Harlow and Mattingly in limbo. Thompson quickly found a gig for Mattingly as chief domestic correspondent, which he accepted.

The option to become a business reporter and substitute anchor when permanent hosts were not available didn’t sit well with the veteran journalist, the source said.

Harlow, Don Lemon and Kaitlan Collins had co-anchored “CNN This Morning,” a creation of former boss Chris Licht. Youtube

Harlow had business reporting chops, joining the network in 2008 as a reporter for, the network’s then-business-centric unit, but moved on to various beats and fill-in anchor gigs before becoming a full-time anchor in 2017 when she co-hosted “CNN Newsroom” alongside Jim Sciutto.

Harlow announced her decision to leave CNN after 21 years via a memo to staffers late last month.

“When I walked in the door at CNN in 2008, I was 25 years old and had never been on live TV. Green is an understatement!,” Harlow wrote. “I grew up here: as a journalist and as a person.”

Harlow decided to leave CNN after 21 years, while Mattingly opted to accept an offer as chief domestic correspondent. Youtube/CNN

Harlow, 41, thanked Thompson, as well as Amy Entelis — the executive vice president for talent, CNN originals, and creative development — writing that the two have “been wonderful and have given me the space to make this decision.”

It’s unclear whether Harlow will return to journalism, but she will likely be in the spotlight a little longer.

She has a children’s book, “The Color of Love,” which she co-authored with “Saturday Today” co-anchor Laura Jarrett, set to hit bookshelves on May 14.

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