CNN Changes?

Page Six is reporting some CNN rumors…

New CNN chief Jeff Zucker is looking at Erin Burnett to revive the cabler’s moribund morning ratings, writes The Post’s Richard Johnson. Burnett, who burst onto the TV news field at CNBC, is now hosting the 7 to 8 p.m. hour on CNN. “Zucker thinks she’s a real talent,” a source said. “He’ll team her up with a guy, and they’ll go after the audience watching ‘Today’ and ‘Good Morning America.’ One thing Zucker knows how to do is a morning show.” Zucker became “Today” executive producer in 1992 at the age of 26 and orchestrated its 16 years of ratings dominance.

I don’t know…seems unlikely to me. That would create three headaches right off the bat…

– What do you put on at 7?
– What do you do with Burnett?
– How do you contain the damage to Soledad O’Brien which will occur if you move her off and she gets tagged with a “twice a failure in mornings” label?

Zucker will have to contend with the first point regardless of whether he does what Page Six suggests or not because Burnett just hasn’t caught fire in that timeslot after being on more than a year. But, that last point is probably the biggest reason not to make this move at this time. It’s too soon. Starting Point hasn’t been on for a whole year yet.


23 Responses to “CNN Changes?”

  1. Does Zucker remember how weird Erin was on the Today show?It didn’t work.Maybe she’s better now than then but I don’t see Erin in the mornings,that seems like a waste to me.And you’re right,what do they do at 7 pm?Erin would probably be a better fit at a later time at night,maybe 8 or 9 pm.

    CNN keeps using the throw it at the wall and see if it sticks method.They need a similar set of people in the AM to compete with the networks.Erin doesn’t strike me as that choice.

  2. Zucker is going to have to look outside of CNN’s current on air talent for someone with some appeal “Charisma”.

  3. I think a morning show where Erin has a co-pilot (or babysitter, whatever you want to call it) may be a better fit for her. She did well with Mark Haines. Her primetime show is not doing well so moving her to a more prominent slot in primetime seems like a really bad idea. I think Soledad would do better in primetime than in the morning so it might be a good switch. I thought she did a good job filling in for Anderson and she has developed quite a reputation as a tough interviewer.

    I also agree with keyboard jockey, Zucker needs to bring in different talent. I was never sure what CNN was hoping to accomplish with Burnett. I thought being the face of Wall Street’s “It ain’t our fault” media blitz disqualified her from CNN but apparently it was a lucrative career move.

    What bugs me about this plan is that they want to go after Today and GMA which suggests they will move into “lighter fare” instead of hard news. That may work well for Burnett but I don’t watch Today or GMA because I want to watch the news.

  4. I have always thought Erin Burnett was better suited to the more freewheeling morning show slot. In fact I think I suggested as much when she first came to CNN. She works best when paired with a suitable partner as she was with Mark Haines at CNBC. I think an older male curmudgeon; in the Jack Cafferty mold but less one dimensional; might be a good combination. At the moment i don’t know of anyone at CNN who could fill that role although Ali Velshi would come close.

    As for Soledad; why not give her an evening slot like Burnett’s or Blitzer’s. She hasn’t worked in AM shows, but has some talent and is not afraid of tough interviews, and maybe she’s better suited to evenings. Just a thought.

  5. Wow Elle! We both came up with the same idea and for the same reason at the same time. We must be unto something here..

  6. Does an Erin/Soledad switch make any difference if the show formats stay the same?

    Erin was good in the morning with Haynes because of her business background and in a business based environment.In a morning show format she’d be doing what she does at 7PM just with a co-pilot.I’m not sure that is really much of a change.It’s what Soledad does just not with someone else.

    I agree with 2 mentions here.1-if CNN is going to try to create a show in the same image as the networks that’s bad news for them,a likely failure.Who would want to see the same show they can see on NBC or ABC that is tried and true?

    2-CNN needs to go outside the network.They need to find people who will draw eyeballs,people who are different and appealing.Keep Erin where she is (but revamp her show),Keep Soledad to before 8AM.Find a new mix of talent for 8-10AM.

    Bottom line here is more about the programming itself than it’s hosts.If you move Erin to mornings what kind of show are you trying to create?Same with Soledad in the evenings.

  7. fritz, great minds my friend, great minds!!!

  8. spdavid, oh I agree, the formats have to change. I don’t think they will just switch hosts but keep the show as is. I think Erin might work well with John Berman. He’s pretty good in the morning. Clearly, Zucker has an idea to totally revamp the morning.

  9. spdavid, Erin’s “business background” is seriously limited. Knowledge was clearly not the key to her success. Mediocre college performance with brief failed stint at Goldman then she quickly jumped into the media business. Her role at Citi had nothing to do with business – it was communications. She’ll adapt to whatever show/format will keep her on TV. If that required dressing up in a clown suit and juggling on national tv she would do it.

  10. Oh, one small point in defense of Starting Point…

    CNN threw that show together on a whim. It had NO promotion whatsoever. It took over 6 months to even get a commercial on the air. If CNN was trying to take it seriously, they sure didn’t act like it. It was the opposite of the fanfare they did for Burnett and Morgan. Geez they put up promos for Morgan for what seemed like a whole year before he aired a single show!

    Just sayin’.

  11. “fritz, great minds my friend, great minds!!!”


    there, resist we much.

  12. Ohhhh, larry, that level of restraint must have been painful for you.

    If I weren’t such a b!#ch, I might find that touching.

  13. I don’t know what the research on Burnett says, but the “female host” makes or breaks morning shows. Female viewers need to like you. Being a mom helps.

  14. You guys hit it right on the head. O’brien is a great interviewer, and it shows in the morning and would work at say 7PM. If they named the show “In America” to conjoin with her doc franchisee and the attitude of the show was in defense of the little guy than it would work. Problem is that their was no focus on Mornings and CEOs reacting to media criticisms of AM being bad, when in all reality the “Start” brand is actually worst in quality, but we got O’brien and Berman who’s talent shines. I think they need to bring back Daybreak for the 5AM hour and bring back American Morning for the 3 hour stretch. The brands were good but no money or thought put into them. Dump the blue /yellow crappy graphics, and make a set like E! News (which check out it’s so nice) and use the social media like graphics that rick sanchez’s show used.

    Banfield would be good in prime time as well and was good covering for cooper. Only problem is that some CNN talent is perceived or branded by the right as liberal, so people on the right will write them off as being bias, as they meanwhile watch their equally bias filled FOX NEWS. I think Banfield and O’Brien in the 7, 10pm slots would diversify CNN prime, and allow cooper to regain viewers split by airing back to back hours. Mornings is a big piece of estate as it sets the day for the network and rating domino effect.
    You have to build mornings and dayside up to build up prime.

    CNN should’ve hired Geist to lead a panel show in prime or Greg Gutfiled but now both talents are locked in and round table genres have been done and CNN is out in the dark.

  15. ^ capricex, you’ve got some good ideas! Apparently, someone else agrees with us as well…

  16. Soledad is plain unlikeable and anyone else in her spot should get somewhat better ratings. As was eluded to by another commenter — if the format stays the same I wouldn’t expect much of a bump.

    Two examples of the difference between FNC/MSNBC’s morning action and CNN would be: No canned reports and hosts you either love or hate.

    While I like Burnett, I don’t think she’s a difference maker.

    Now, if CNN’s going for the ‘news crowd’ they’re already watching HLN. And Morning Express is mostly affiliate reporting, a little banter, sports, and weather. Rinse. Repeat.

  17. Meanwile, The ex-MSNBC producer, Chris Licht, is making the CBS MORNING SHOW with its talented crew into a very watchable, insightful and entertaining program. Recent addition of Major Garrett as WH Correspondent only helps the effort. I DVR it every morning now.

  18. I’ve never thought Erin Burnett was very bright. Good looking, yes, bright, no. I remember watching her segments on Morning Joe when the economy was falling apart and the way she was sugarcoating everything. I mean, she almost acted more like a spokesperson for Wall Street than a reporter for CNBC. Then in her first month at CNN, she spent the entire time acting as a mouthpiece for Wall Street by mocking OWS instead of reporting on it, making false statements about TARP and making statements about how Wall Street is an ally of the poor and middle class — by using “evidence” that isn’t even close to true.

  19. I’ve tried watching her show but I just can’t get past her history of using her job as a reporter to act as a public relations representative of Wall Street firms.

  20. Morning Joe has gone to sh!t since Licht left. CBS This Morning continues to improve. Too bad it starts so late in the morning.

  21. PJmedia blogger David Steinberg, thinks the problem is the CNN business model.

  22. Hey, the new rumor is that Piers Morgan will be moved to a later timeslot!! Of course, they are also going to end the AC360 repeat at 10pm.

    Of course, any cable news junkie idiot like myself could have told CNN that a re-run in primetime was a dumb idea. I am surprised it lasted this long – over a year!!! That move always looked desperate.

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