In Depth: “Mr. President we must not allowwww an Amanpour gap!”

While flying back from Maui the news broke that CNN’s Christiane Amanpour is jumping to ABC. I don’t think it’s understating things at all to say this is a huge blow to CNN. It also wouldn’t be understating things to say that this is the single biggest defection in CNN’s history and the biggest loss to the network ever, bigger than Bernard Shaw’s retirement.

Amanpour occupied a singular position at CNN – and arguably a singular position in TV news period. Setting aside whatever views you may hold regarding her political leanings, you’d have to agree that her stature in international news and access to world leaders was unique and unmatched by any television journalist currently operating in the medium. Her departure creates a huge void at CNN that will not be easily filled, if it indeed can be filled.

So dominant was her position at the network that CNN really doesn’t have a strong internal bench to draw from as a replacement. You can call it the “Tim Russert syndrome”. And like what happened to NBC when Russert died, you may find CNN turning to a team of people to replace the output of one.

Topping the list of potential successors would be Fareed Zakaria. This would be the logical and best choice but it is also currently the most problematic. While Zakaria does front what I consider to be the best Sunday show on TV, broadcast or cable – and does so despite having one of the worst show names in existence – Zakaria, while having a strong international background, is not really a reporter as much as he is an interviewer/analyst. And he’s not a full time CNN employee. He splits his time between Newsweek and CNN. If CNN was inclined on making Zakaria the next Amanpour they’d first have to convince him to become a full time CNNer and to work on his reporting skills. It’s a tough hill to climb, though not an impossible one.

Once you get past Zakaria though, the next group of possible candidates is fraught with drawbacks. Wolf Blitzer is not known for international affairs to the degree Zakaria is and certainly not to the degree Amanpour is. John King, who has even less of an international pedigree than Blitzer, just got locked to a desk five days a week and won’t be moved. Anderson Cooper? He may have his pet international causes but international world news is not really his forte. And, like King, he’s already tied to a desk five nights a week.

When you get right down to it, there really is no one good internal option for CNN to replace Amanpour. So you will see one of two things happen. Either CNN will split up Amanpour’s duties amongst several people to cover the ground she did or CNN will look outside and bring someone in as a long term work in progress. Such is the void that Amanpour’s departure creates and the headache CNN now faces.

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16 Responses to “In Depth: “Mr. President we must not allowwww an Amanpour gap!””

  1. michellefrommadison Says:

    Amanpour is not the first to leave CNN because of the unprofessional conduct and multitude of lawsuits filed against other CNN mediaheads for crimes they have committed against real victims of crimes. Sounds like she got out before the crap all hits the fan soon, or is just tired of CNN paying off those incoming lawsuits to avoid the publicity of their crimes.

  2. missfirewire Says:

    I think Ivan Watson would be a nice replacement.

  3. There is some blond guy with the title of international correspondent. I can’t think of his name but he does a lot of battle field crap. He might take this chance to get away from that and meet famous people around the world instead.

  4. Welcome back Spud. It’s nice to have real cable news stories to discuss again.
    I agree with much of your analysis but don’t think they should go with the team approach.
    I think they should showcase some potential replacements much as ABC did before hiring Amanpour.
    A quick but certainly not complete list of potential candidates might include;
    Jim Clancy – the only one on CNNI that has the experience and contacts to be considered. He is long in the tooth and that may limit his consideration.
    Zane Verjee – My best choice, an up and comer who is well travelled and camera friendly.
    Jane Arraf – An excellent foreign correspondent with a CNN background who is now with the Christian Science Monitor.
    Martin Savidge – Much in the mold of Jim Clancy but has some gravitas and experience. He’s been on CNN recently.
    Nic Robertson – (Maybe the guy Corny is referring to?) Experienced but I think might lack the interviewing skills required.
    Michael Ware – Way to opinionated for the job. And then there’s that nose.
    Ivan Watson – Lacking gravitas but someone to keep an eye on.
    David Gergen – Good choice but more of a Washington hand.
    There are a number of think tank foreign analysis types that could also be considered but none has interviewing experience and most have distinct POVs on foreign affairs.
    For now, I would expand Freed Zakaria’s show to two hours until the selection process is complete.

  5. The domestic side only has one hour to fill with Amanpour’s departure.. And I think replacing her on the “dial” would be up to the International side.

    CNNI has plenty of people that can (attempt) to do what Amanpour has for many, many years. However, they’ll need to assemble a car load to match her strengths in multiple areas.

  6. harry1420 Says:

    michael holmes would be a good choice for chief internation correspondent. i can’t believe abc would pick amanpour. i like her but folks in the US don’t want the international crap. the sunday morning watchers want the political US crap and I believe her ratings will be very dismal

  7. harry1420 Says:

    dont forget about Nic Robertson. there are so many talented reporters on the international side that we here in the US don’t ever get to see.

  8. I like Nic Robertson, he seems ready made to fill the void.

  9. Yeah, the guy I’m referring to is Nic Robertson. Although I’d like him better if he added a K to his name. Weird name spellings just annoy me, especially in TV anchors/reporters.

  10. starbroker Says:

    Of course she had access to world leaders, helll this woman bashed America all the time. She belongs at Al Jazerra.

    Here’s a great example of how CNN got that access:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/11/opinion/11JORD.html

    Who cares that Amanpour and CNN shilled for Saddam so they could keep a bureau in Iraq?!

    Shamefully ABC replaces a Clinton operative with the wife of a Billl & Hillary operative.

    All one has to do is watch that disgusting special she had GOD’S WARRIORS to see her extreme bias and hatred of Jews and Christians.

    Its a shame that any network would give someone like her a platform.

  11. “Shamefully ABC replaces a Clinton operative with the wife of a Billl & Hillary operative.”

    I guess Glenn Beck wasn’t available?
    Maybe it could be a good job for Sarah Palin. I hear she wants to show off her foreign affairs chops. :-)

  12. All one has to do is watch that disgusting special she had GOD’S WARRIORS to see her extreme bias and hatred of Jews and Christians.

    Do you know the difference between bias and truth? I hope you realize telling the truth has nothing to do with bias. God’s warriors was comprised of Jews, Christians and Muslims.

    CA is Christian and has a Jewish husband. So, why would her reporting show bias towards Jews/Christians?

    Translation: When one uses religion to justify murder — that makes ‘em a God’s warrior.

  13. missy5537 Says:

    Spud, you’re putting Christiane Amanpour leaving CNN right up there with the first landing on the moon! It’s not THAT big of a deal. Probably 95% of the country has never even heard of this woman.

    They just lost Lou Dobbs, and he was there forever (except for a couple of years of a gap). And look at all of the anchors they’ve dumped from Headline News over the years. And the daytime news anchors at CNN.

    And no one states our desires better than “harry1420″, above. Yes, it’s “political crap” that we want – not this “international crap”!

  14. missy5537 Says:

    Spud, after reading a few other post here and elsewhere, maybe CA’s departure from CNN is a big deal. I hardly watch the network at this point and have never liked the woman (see “starbroker’s” comments, above), so I probably should have stayed out of the discussion.

  15. – Probably 95% of the country has never even heard of this woman. –

    That might apply to the majority of the people discussed here. She’s being judged in the CNN-universe, not the industry or the country at large. For CNN, she certainly ranks up with Shaw, Arnett (back when that meant something) and others of a bygone era. She’s younger than the by-goners, so she’s still got a future to think of.

  16. How long is her ABC contract for? When it is up, she will be crawling back to CNN’s sweet embrace.

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