More CNN Speculation…
Page Six continues its rampage…
New CNN boss Jeff Zucker has been looking to raid certain print publications to beef up the network’s talent roster. We’re told he’s “reached out to some top reporters in Hollywood to help CNN break more news in that area. He has been sounding out reporters at Variety and Hollywood Reporter.” The source added, “You can’t turn TV people into great reporters, but you can turn a great reporter into a decent broadcaster.” Zucker also just hired Jake Tapper, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent (watch out, John King). Meanwhile, we’re still hearing Erin Burnett will be headed back to the morning show, while “American Morning” anchor Soledad O’Brien has been promised a primetime slot.
1. Why the emphasis on Entertainment News? What happened to hard news? That’s going to make some people in Atlanta chafe.
2. The morning issues are not a talent problem. They are a format problem. It’s always been a format problem even though CNN kept (mistakenly) focusing on it as a talent problem (though some of the talent switches were poorly thought out and they exacerbated the situation). Swapping Burnett for O’Brien won’t solve that format problem. This is a familiar problem that networks routinely face and screw the pooch on. They blame the talent for their execution errors in format, subject matter choice, timeslot placement, etc, etc. If the show fails it’s always “because the talent couldn’t do the job” not because “we just didn’t have a good idea what to do at that hour and we lack vision”. Sometimes it really is the talent but most of the time it isn’t.
3. If CNN puts Soldead O’Brien in primetime it will fail. I’ll just get that out of the way right now. In primetime, personalities are as important as format, if not more important. You need to be larger than life…especially at 8 and 9. This is one of the reasons why I find Piers Morgan’s show so maddening…rarely does his on air demeanor match the larger than life social media persona he created.
O’Brien’s tough interview reputation, which has been the only thing Starting Point has been able to build off of at all, is simply not enough for a primetime show host. Take a look at 8pm. It hasn’t made much of a difference for Anderson “Keeping Them Honest” Cooper. If it hasn’t helped Cooper who is CNN’s flagship anchor, it’s certainly not going to help O’Brien.
If CNN wants to move the needle past MSNBC in primetime it needs to get creative. Moving chess pieces around isn’t the answer. Finding a different game to play is.