CNN’s (Temporary?) Return to the “Three Headed Monster”…

With today’s John Berman hiring news, CNN has returned again to the “Three Headed Monster” format it had been using on the now defunct “American Morning”…at least for the moment. More on that in a bit…

As I wrote several months ago when reviewing “Early Start”, the show had all kinds of chemistry issues between Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin.

Something needs to happen and soon. Early Start with Banfield and Sambolin may be salvageable but not without major adjustments. If the chemistry issues can’t be ironed out, I would not be surprised to see the duo split up in six months time.

In the intervening months since I wrote that, CNN has been trying all kinds of things on the show to get it going. A lot of the experimentation involved bouncing the anchors around the studio; sitting down at the desk, standing up solo for interviews, standing up together, sitting back down, etc. But the chemistry problem remained and all the bouncing in the world wasn’t going to address that. With Berman’s hire, the chemistry equation has been changed.

It’s not clear exactly what Berman’s anchoring duties will entail. Will he be an equal partner with Banfield and Sambolin? Or is CNN merely swapping him in for Christine Romans (who handles headline reading segments in addition to business news)? Judging from the press release I’m betting on the former but it may also mean that Romans’ headline reading segments are going bye-bye as well.

Whatever the case, CNN is moving the show much much closer to the Three Headed Monster format American Morning was using at the time of its demise. While it is true that at the time of its demise American Morning’s ratings were higher than Early Start’s are now, that does not necessarily mean that the Three Headed Monster format is a good idea. I continue to take a dim view of the Three Headed Monster format. With the exception of one show, traditionally it has never been a long term viable format for cable news. The “one exception” has been Fox and Friends and FnF has always been a much more relaxed format compared to what CNN is trying to do with news in the morning.

As such, I’m not convinced that CNN is planning on sticking with the Three Headed Monster long term. I think what the network will do is see who Berman clicks with better; Banfield or Sambolin, and then drop the other from the show.

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2 Responses to “CNN’s (Temporary?) Return to the “Three Headed Monster”…”

  1. Expect a head to roll. Won’t be Banfield as she is protected by the Dark Arts.

  2. -FnF has always been a much more relaxed format-

    Exactly, and CNN’s competition for morning eyeballs (GMA, Today, FnF, etc.) all figured out long ago that the bulk of their audiences want to watch casual, entertainment programming that’s interspersed with some (mostly) light news. They also want hosts capable of handling serious breaking news if it happens.

    I think CNN should try to out-Fox Fox by having a similarly relaxed format but using a larger ensemble cast who rotate on a predictable schedule… the weekend hosts are the same faces people see during some days of the work week. Most importantly, whoever is assigned to read the news that day, be it one person or two, does it without commentary from a news desk and, at least for that day, keeps their butt off the smooshy/curved couch until the “goodbyes” and hand-off to the next show.

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