“As a little girl,” the CNN anchor recalled, “I would sit with him at the kitchen table and he would take apart a camera or a printer and say ‘Look, Poppy, this is where they infringed a patent.’ ‘This is why we’re going to court.'”
James Harlow was an intellectual property litigator. He died when Poppy was 15. But she still remembers spending Saturday mornings at his law office, observing his world. Now she is immersing herself in it, embarking on a one-year program at Yale Law School while taking a break from weekday anchoring duties.
Harlow announced her unusual TV leave of absence on “CNN Newsroom” Tuesday morning.
“Starting next week, I will be taking a break from being with you every morning on this show so that I can go back to school. Yes, school! I’m going to study law for a Master’s degree,” she said on the air. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And if this year and a half has taught me anything, it is, why not try!”
Harlow has been with CNN since 2008. She said she was inspired to try out an academic track last fall while covering the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
She recalled interviewing the Justice at an event in 2018, just days after giving birth to her second child, and she considered Ginsburg’s own experience with work-life balance: Pursuing a Harvard Law degree while caring for her young daughter and cancer-stricken husband.
On Tuesday she cited Ginsburg in the on-air announcement and credited her husband with being willing to “take on a lot while I try this.”
And she thanked her CNN bosses for being “the rare kind who make the impossible, possible.”
Harlow will be enrolling in a two-semester Master of Studies in Law degree program at Yale, the Degree of Master of Studies in Law. The university says the program has specific appeal to “mid-career journalists seeking an intensive immersion in legal thinking so that they are better able to educate their audiences upon their return to journalism.”
“This is such a terrific opportunity for Poppy and I am so proud of her for committing to it,” CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker said in a statement. “She will have a ton on her plate — but I know she will manage it flawlessly and come back enriched and so much better for it.”
Zucker said CNN “could not be more supportive and we all wish her the best of luck, and not too many all nighters. I can’t wait to have her back full time in the anchor chair.”
Harlow quipped on TV that the Master’s program is “only going to be until the spring, so you’re not getting rid of me very long.”
While enrolled at Yale, Harlow will be a fill-in anchor, appearing on CNN during holidays and other days that she doesn’t have class.
With her anchor producer Nora Neus, she will also work on a new project for CNN+, the streaming service that the network is launching in early 2022.
The morning hours of “CNN Newsroom” will continue to be helmed by Jim Sciutto along with a rotation of co-hosts.
In an interview, Harlow said she has been full of nerves about the beginning of the school year. “I’m someone who’s not taken a lot of risks, who’s been scared of things,” she said. “But I’m just going to try.”
When prompted to write the lead of her own story, Harlow, who will turn 40 around the time the Master’s program ends in May, said, “it’s okay to take a risk at 40.”