Posts Tagged ‘Jon Klein’

Kiran Out & Soledad In: Ouch!

July 15, 2011

A not so subtle message? Wow! In a strange and somewhat sadistic twist of fate, Soledad O’Brien returned this morning to American Morning to sub for Kiran Chetry as co-host. N.B. Today marks the very first day after AM announced Kiran Chetry’s departure from the show on July 29. Ouch!

As readers may remember, Soledad herself was co-anchor of AM (for almost four years) before being unceremoniously dumped for Kiran on April 16, 2007 to jumpstart AM‘s anemic ratings. When then CNN/US Prez Jon Klein announced the shakeup (Soledad/Miles O’Brien replaced by Kiran/John Roberts), he noted that AM‘s ratings had faltered in the ratings while the rest of CNN’s programming had increased by double digits: he added, “We think we can do even better and we think the show deserves to.”

Unfortunately for CNN, Klein’s replacement team never really did too much better in the needed numbers. And, Soledad probably thought that it certainly did not deserve to do so after her ousting. And, now that her replacement Kiran is on her own way out at “the ratings-challenged morning show,” Soledad must have found a measure of sweet revenge to return to her former AM throne on the first day after AM proclaimed the end of Kiran’s reign.

Even if Soledad sweetly did not fill her own sense of shadenfreude, someone at AM apparently did. Soledad’s ill-timed fill-in seemed like a gratuitous slap at Kiran from that somebody. Perchance, a parting shot by that anonymous AM staffer who told Page 6 that “Kiran is dumb as a rock” (in its Halloween night 2010 story on possible big changes at AM by new CNN chief Ken Jautz)?

Kicking Kiran on her way out? Not necessarily the best idea: Some of the show’s most loyal viewers are her fans. But, with AM possibly on its own way out (as Inside Cable News suggested), perhaps, that AM somebody simply did not care anymore.

AM Adopts F&F’s Couch (But, Shep’s Commode?)

May 17, 2011

The De-Klein and Fall of American Morning in one day? Today AM co-hosts Christine Romans and Ali Velshi and their audience celebrated the long-awaited arrival of their cozy “curvy couch” (a la FNC’s Fox & Friends). However, regrettably, along with it came a real Fox News seat–the unflushed porcelain throne of Shepard Smith–still filled with the Ole Miss devotee’s disgusting dung, i.e., the offensive seven-year old Trampoline Bear video.

As AM began today, the camera panned over the comfy couch that AM co-host Kiran Chetry had apparently teased almost three months ago to Mediaite.com reporter Tommy Christopher. For far too long, the AM audience had suffered under the inane adage of former CNN chief Jon Klein that “couches/chairs sap energy.” However, today, his successor Ken Jautz clearly took yet another shackle off of his AM co-hosts to free them to be “more upbeat,” “more compelling…engaging, [and] sometimes more fun.” I.e., to sit down and talk to their AM audience as personal friends and family rather than stand and chat with them as casual acquaintances and customers.

Unfortunately, Ali and Christine spoiled the delightful debut of AM‘s divan with a gratuitously thrice-aired video of ugly, ursine plight. After running a headline news story about a little brown bear near some Albuquerque, New Mexico, apartments (that had to be sedated and then lowered by ropes into a bag), Christine gleefully commented, “That gives us, of course, an excuse to resurrect this oldie but goodie.”

Chiming in (a la Shep de Sade), Ali exclaimed, “I, I never get tired of this one. This is Missoula, Montana, a similar situation.” As the Trampoline Bear vid ran showing the black bear falling from the tree onto the trampoline, being hurled high into the air, plunging into the hard earth, and then crumpling under its own weight, Christine chortled, “Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!, and Ali cooed, “Ooh! Oww!”

Trying to assuage her horrified viewers, Christine hastily added, “He was fine! He was fine!” Then, as AM producers aired anew the repulsive footage, Ali baldly asserted, “I’d only show this to you again because he was fine.” Offering his personal color commentary as the bear took its crushing course into an unforgiving ground, Aly continued, “He bumps on the trampoline once and then [pause] off the trampoline.” Then, incredibly, the AM producers ran the video a third time for good–or, rather evil–measure.

About thirty minutes later, Christine and Aly cheerfully exhibited their Cyclopean couch to their viewers as they returned from break.** As the camera closed in on them, a blushing Christine chuckled and Aly announced, “We have our new couch!” Christine commented, “I like it.” Concurring, Ali replied, “I like this, too.”

So does the author. In fact, he suggested the couch about two and half years ago when Klein was in control. Bouquets, Jautz, for the welcome change.

But, brickbats, Ali and Christine, for adopting Shep’s used toilet. Flush his filth and clean CNN’s studio. And, apologize to your AM fans.

*American Morning – 05/16/11 (@ 7:10 a.m. ET)

**American Morning – 05/16/11 (@ 7:42 a.m. ET)

John Roberts: “This Pole Does Extend”

December 23, 2010

Jerry Stiller: “You guys, I didn’t think that CNN went in that direction!” The erection of the Festivus pole took on a whole new meaning today as American Morning co-anchor John Roberts gave it his own phallic twist.

In a segment entitled, “Festivus for the Rest of Us! Real people celebrate fake holiday,”  Roberts and guest co-host Carol Costello interviewed the founder of Festivus (Seinfeld’s Frank Costanza a/k/a Jerry Stiller). During their discussion of the faux holiday, Roberts queried Stiller as to his favorite feat of strength (a Festivus rite). Saltily, Stiller responded, “I’m not going to be able to talk about that on an early morning show: So, let’s leave it at that, John! No, but, you know, I got a great wife, and I’m [sic] still get excited. How ’bout that!”*

Chuckling, Costello commented, “That’s good!” Meanwhile, Roberts, after doubling over in laughter, stood and went to the AM Festivus pole. Grasping it with his right hand and guiding it upward, Roberts randily jested, “I just wanted to point out that this pole does extend!” After watching Roberts raise the pole, Stiller buried his head in his hands and exclaimed, “You guys, I didn’t think CNN went in that direction!”

Perhaps, not in the de-Klein days. But, it does in the Jautz era now.

*American Morning – 12/22/10 (@ 8:53 a.m. ET)

Update: Interview vid via Huffington Post.

AM 2011: John Jilted, TJ Wooed?

December 7, 2010

Out with the old: in with the new? According to New York Post‘s Page 6 sources, American Morning‘s co-anchor John Roberts is leaving AM “as early as the start of the new year.” Reportedly, Roberts is concluding a contract with CNN which would take him from his AM anchor seat in New York City to a national correspondent role in Atlanta, home of his gravid fiance, weekday CNN Newsroom anchor Kyra Phillips. In Roberts’ stead, inside sources suggest that CNN Newsroom‘s younger weekend anchor T.J. Holmes is a “favorite” to replace Roberts and to join the comely current co-anchor, Kiran Chetry, behind the AM desk.

No one should be surprised at the shakeup of AM, the cellar-dwelling cable morning news program: in fact, cable news media have been speculating for almost a year about a much needed makeover. Even though then CNN boss Jon Klein seemed loathe to alter the team that he himself had confected, successor CNN chief Ken Jautz has shown no such compunction: when Jautz was chosen to replace Klein in September, Jautz outlined his plans to jazz up the primetime ratings by making “primetime more compelling and engaging, sometimes more fun.” Then, last month (November 1) Page Six insider sources disclosed that new CNN chief Ken Jautz was going to concentrate on the daytime programming and that “his first step[would] be to dismantle American Morning, the lowest-rated cable morning show.” Now, apparently, Katz has so acted.

If Holmes does join Chetry, the AM dynamic should change significantly. With the “voice of God” journalist Roberts, Chetry too often has seemed unsure of herself and her abilities. But, when paired on occasion with the greener Holmes, Chetry has appeared to shine with an unabashed self-confidence.

A.M. & Costello: Funny Business?

June 4, 2010

CNN’s Carol Costello: Journo joker? (Cf. “Who’s Your Expert, Carol?,” infra.) If the BP oil spill ecological disaster were not so tragic, perhaps, Carol’s Orwellianly named report, “Emotion vs. Science: Are sand berms a smart defense?” would have been comedic. As President Barack Obama, under fire for being unemotional and for his reticence to approve of the sand berms to protect the Louisiana wetlands, traveled to Louisiana today, Carol seemed to be on a personal mission to give him cover from his detractors, both liberal and conservative.

Introducing her straw-man segment, Carol stated, “When President Obama comes here today, some people want him to show more emotion. They want him to take emphatic charge of the situation. There are plenty of local politicians, showing a lot of emotion. You know, they want to build those sand berms. But, scientists say, ‘Hold off on the emotion for just a minute and think about what these sand berms really do to the environment.’ So, is emotion or science better? A gut check this morning.”*

As footage of the disaster site ran, including that of Louisiana Governor Jindal, local Louisiana officials, and an oil-soaked pelican in the wetlands of Louisiana, Carol opined, “Louisiana’s governor is usually low-key but not these days. He’s fired up, emotional like so many other Louisiana politicians…There is a sense of doom here and some say politicians in their eagerness to do something are calling for solutions that may not work like giant six-foot walls of sand or sand berms. It’s a concept that politicians say has been in their area contingency plan with the Corps of Engineers. President Obama finally agreed under pressure, approving six berm sites.” [Italics added for emphasis.]

After portraying the Louisiana “politicians” as being uber emotional, Carol turned to a young unidentified bearded man with sunglasses and a BTNEP baseball cap, asking, “Would these giant sand walls really work?” He answered, “There are instances where they would be of benefit.” With no mention of his credentials, Carol continued, “Mel Landry studies the barrier islands and marshlands Louisiana politicians are so desperate to protect.” Subsequently, she solicited his view on the berms which he said “could have adverse impacts” citing a bulldozer’s incidental leveling of nests in the berm-building process. (Seemingly not satisfied with her sound bite, Carol superimposed, “He adds the berms could be blown away in a hurricane and could also disrupt natural tidal flows if they’re use to block gaps between barrier islands. But local politicians aren’t hearing that. The berms will go up and BP will pay the price, $360,000,000!”)

As the footage ended, Carol remarked, “John, six berms have been approved. One berm is under construction. Um, experts tell me [that] it could take a couple of weeks for these things to be put up but they’re raring to go.” Then strangely BP sensitive, Carol facetiously snarked, “And, hey, BP’s footing the bill, $360,000,000. So a lot of people here are saying, ‘If it is a waste of money, who cares? BP is paying!”

Seemingly, less than impressed with Carol’s reasoning, John sensibly stated, “Alright. Well, some good news for those folks there.” Similarly sympathetic to the plight of Louisianans on the Gulf coast, Kiran (who herself had reported from Grand Isle and other devastated areas in Louisiana) cogently countered, “The front page of all the papers this morning has some heart-breaking pictures–and we have the video as well–of these birds covered in oil. And, a couple of the datelines at East Grand Terre Isle, which is where one of those berms is being built currently, and they said [that] if they could have just gotten that done earlier, maybe, that marshland would not have become oiled. So, there are very strong opinions on both sides about that.”

Unfortunately, after Carol nonchalantly said, “Absolutely,” and asked for viewer input to her AM blog, she got back on message. Shaking her head, Carol icily commented, “I mean, should politicians just step back just for a minute and really study this and bring scientists in and, and really get a group together to see if these berms are really effective because sometimes the solution could be worse than the initial problem–because if these sand berms are gonna kill the wildlife anyway, why erect them?”

As an, apparently, incredulous John sat tight-lipped, wide-eyed, and stone-faced, Kiran reasonably remarked, “Yeah, a lot of questions this morning about that situation. And, another guy (vis-a-vis Landry?) locally said, ‘Hey, if a hurricane does knock the berm over, it’s done its job. At least, it’s protected it from getting on shore. So, again, a lot of differing opinions about it. Carol Costello this morning, thank you.”

Carol smugly smiled and shrugged her shoulders.

“Who’s Your Expert, Carol?” Even though John and Kiran seemed to sanely reject Carol’s premise that the sand berms were a case of “Emotion vs. Science” (or, in Carol’s case, local Louisiana “politicians” versus her mysterious scientific expert Mel Landry), they did not tell you the “rest of the story.” Just who is Mel Landry, Carol’s source for science or font of wisdom? According to his Facebook page, the twenty-nine year old Mel Landry is a 2004 college graduate from LSU who majored in fisheries and aquaculture. Furthermore, he states that he is the “Public Involvement Coordinator for the Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program.” In his role, Landry explains, “I work with local communities, businesses, governments and volunteers across the state to save Louisiana’s vanishing coast and culture. I’m neck deep in science and politics and anyone who’s been around long enough knows that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”

So, for her scientific authority, Carol depended on a mere college graduate who is “neck deep in science and politics” and who works as the “public involvement coordinator” of a non-profit organization, Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program. Perhaps, she could not find a non-political, post-graduate Louisiana scientist to do her bidding. After getting this senior sage who taxied her around Grand Isle and a berm or two, Carol (in her AmFix blog) vapidly and vacuously pontificated, “So, chalk up one for emotion: the berms will go up, BP will dole out $360 million for the project, and maybe science will be the better for it. Or not.”

“Chalk up another one for emotion”? Indeed. In fact, Carol’s seeming selection of her own “expert” to make her case is remarkably similar to the time (about six months ago) that she apparently chose a panel of four “very sharp” women to pan, er, critique Sarah Palin’s book, Going Rogue. Now, as then, she appears to have readily obtained the conclusion that she wanted from her self-selected “experts” that had few if any bona fides. Playing politics with Sarah Palin is one thing but playing politics with Louisiana, its wetlands, and its way of life is another thing altogether.

Carol, as a CNN reporter, you should be ashamed of yourself for producing another biased, specious piece: strike two. Jamie, as AM executive producer, you should be embarrassed for letting it air once, much less a second time. And, Jon, as CNN news chief, if you really meant that you wanted CNN “to position itself as an opinion-free, middle-of-the-road alternative to its cable news rivals — conservative Fox News and liberal MSNBC,” you need to make it happen.

*American Morning – 06/04/10 (@6:32 a.m. ET)

A.M.: Alpha Male 2 Beta Boy?

May 20, 2010

Is CNN/USA prez Jon Klein cutting John Roberts in favor of Jim Acosta? As Campbell Brown departs from her eight o’clock “no-bias-no-bull” perch because of low ratings, Klein seems to be promoting AM co-hosts Roberts and Kiran Chetry’s “open marriage” with Acosta as Chetry’s current courter. Perhaps, he is trying to confect the perfect solution to cure both American Morning abysmal ratings and those of Campbell Brown. I.e., he may want to rejigger the AM format by sending the seasoned news veteran (and CB guest anchor) Roberts to a straight news substitute for CB and replace him with a younger version on AM.

However, such a move may imperil the CNN’s anemic morning news program even further, especially, if Klein replaces alpha male Roberts with a proverbial albeit talented eunuch. As viewers of AM know, Roberts is the MAN on AM. Even weatherstud Rob Marciano cedes the preeminent role to Roberts albeit with an occasional obligatory nip at his elder’s heels. Roberts is CNN’s real silver-haired rogue who loves the ladies, knows his facts, and can still effortlessly play it cool with his AM audience, guests, and co-horts. To boot, he can keep co-host Kiran Chetry in awe at the same time with ease. Without him, AM becomes merely a bevy of beauties, beta boys, and choral castratos.

Even though his departure may well leave AM in the lurch, Roberts would probably be the perfect fit for a CB substitute as the “voice of Olympus” who bellows the”impartial truth” from the throne at Ted Turner’s erstwhile crown jewel. CNN would get their version of “fair and balanced” news and Roberts could finally pontificate in the evening a la Uncle Walter. Not to mention, Roberts also has the hip MuchMusic veejay JD persona to potentially draw in the prized A25-54 demo.

Even if Klein does solve his CB problem with Roberts, he may exacerbate the aforementioned AM one, especially, if he picks Jim Acosta. Yes, Acosta is from the valued Hispanic demographic but he seems to lack the needed machismo as CNN colleague Carol Costello has indicated and Acosta has appeared to acknowledge. To make matters worse, potential co-host Kiran Chetry seems to patronize Acosta by maternally putting up with his incessant interruptions and inane ad libs while charitably comparing him to George Clooney.

If Klein sends Roberts packing to his CB replacement, he should turn to his stable of young stallions like Rob Marciano or T.J. Holmes. Both of those young bucks seem eager to take their place at the helm as ruddy, randy roues ready to regale Kiran and the AM audience. Of course, Kiran’s hubby might prefer the more sedate and effete Acota, but the AM audience would probably continue to decline with such a flaccid fellow.

When will Klein finally face reality? He needs to connect with his vast vibrant audience of the American Everyman rather than his preferred incestuous elitist Manhattan socialites (who tow the politically correct line and massage one another’s egos). If he would embrace the egalitarianism of FNC’s Roger Ailes, CNN/USA’s top suit might realize that he did not need to feign disdain at ratings but rather could actually appreciate them fully if he followed suit.

Ergo, Klein, talk with your audience not down to them. Raze the trappings of hubris that you have embraced and walk among the people. Do away with AM’s distancing desk and the imperious palaver: rather, pull up a few chairs and converse with your viewers intelligently but not pedantically. I.e., get off your high horse a la Marie Antoinette before you meet a similar fate.

Ailes’ Virgin Vixen?

May 10, 2010

Gerri Willis: CNN cloistered cutie to FBN femme fatale? Roger Ailes’ latest CNN snatch made her virgin appearance on Red Eye Saturday night. From the moment host Greg Gutfeld heralded her first appearance on RE, Gerri seemed timid, stiff, and stilted as she warily navigated RE‘s Kafkaesque labyrinth.

Further, the future Willis Report anchor inexplicably botched her chance to shine as to the big biz question of the day. When, during the RE “Halftime Report,” Andy Levy asked, “Gerri, what exactly happened with the stock market today?,” she, stating the obvious, replied, “It went down.”* As Andy motioned for more, Gerri simplistically answered, “It went down big time.” In response, Andy acerbically sniped, “Wow! I really want to demand Fox Business now.” Smiling abashedly, Gerri responded, “Oh, why am I here?” Subsequently, when Andy asked again, a flustered Gerri declared, “I was warned about this and I didn’t listen. I came anyway. And, now I am so mad at myself.”

At that moment, perhaps, Fox News and Fox Biz boss Roger Ailes had his own second thoughts about Gerri. When he announced her hiring, he stated, “Most of the CNN talent have been restrained from showing what they can do — we’re looking forward to providing Gerri with a platform at Fox Business to showcase her financial acumen and television expertise.” Maybe, Gerri is still finding her sea legs. Speaking of which, perhaps, next time Greg will give her the vaunted “leg chair” and Gerri can start to adapt  (a la Patti Ann Brown) to her new station on the U.S.S. Roger Ailes.

The transformation of this former Jon Klein girl-in-chains may take some time.

*Red Eye – 05/09/10 (12:32 a.m. ET).

[Editorial aside: As to Andy's saying "today" when speaking of the stock market decline, apparently, he was referring to RE's production date (Friday) not its airing one (Sunday)."]

Pink: Kiran’s “New Obsession”

April 1, 2010

Has American Morning co-host Kiran Chetry found a new way to arouse the flaccid ratings of her slumping program? As producers began the second half of the show early today to the lurid lilt of Aerosmith’s “Pink,” co-anchor John Roberts pointed to Kiran’s pink open sweater  and deadpanned, “My favorite color.”* Smiling knowingly, Kiran risquely remarked, “It’s my new obsession.”

When Michael Calderone asked about a possible “radical re-thinking” of Jon Klein’s news network in his “How to Fix CNN” Politico article, who knew that Kiran might be thinking proactively outside the box? In the past, Kiran has said that pink is one of her favorite colors. And, with her major in broadcast journalism and minor in women’s studies (at the University of Maryland), the Nepalese beauty may have discovered a winning formula at last.

Watch out, Fox & Friends and Morning Joe. Today may well mark the dawning of a new American Morning. Rise and shine!

*American Morning – 04/01/10 (@7:27 a.m. ET)

Kiran Misses Mark

March 29, 2010

And Klein’s CNN “opinion-free, middle-of-the-road alternative”? Palin (and Tea Partiers) escapes unscathed. Today American Morning co-host Kiran Chetry seemed loaded for bear, or another moose predator, Sarah Palin. In a political segment (with Republican stalwart Mary Matalin and Democratic strategist Lanny Davis) entitled “Sarah Palin on the Stump,” Kiran a la Carol Costello seemed to be salivating for some piping hot minced Palin meat for breakfast. However, the big trophy game seemed a mite much for her to take down.

Before the discussion, Kiran commented, “Love her or hate her, it’s hard to ignore Sarah Palin. The former Alaska governor VOP [sic] vice presidential candidate is certainly a political lightning rod and she struck again over the weekend when she introduced Senator John McCain at a campaign event.”* Kiran continued, “After a year of sort of sniping between Senator John McCain’s camp and Sarah Palin’s camp, they’re back together….What’s going on, Mary?”

Countering Kiran’s clear implication, James Carville’s better half replied, “Well, the Senator and Governor Palin were never at odds. Campaigns…tend to get tense at the end there and that one did….But, the Senator has always been loyal to her and vice versa.”

Turning to Davis, Kiran persisted, “Well, Lanny,…John McCain was asked several months back to name some GOP…hopefuls that could run for President and he didn’t mention Sarah Palin, his former GOP running mate.” Then noting Palin’s popularity with “these crowds” and citing various polls that indicated that a majority of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents did not want her to run for President, Kiran asked, “What to make of that division there, Lanny?”

Unswayed by Kiran’s spin, Davis responded, “[N]ice to be on with Mary, and we usually agree which is a disappointment to your audience that loves partisanship. I agree with Mary…that John McCain has always taken a gracious high road and so has Sarah Palin….[D]espite the sniping among the staffs, it did not happen between the two of them.”

Then, the Clinton diehard added, “I give Sarah Palin a lot of credit. First of all, she’s always impressed me as a political performer and also a political talent, and I think any Democrat that underestimates her is making a mistake. Secondly, I give her credit for standing up to this Tea Party movement that is opposing John McCain, and… [her] going there tells me…that she’s willing to stand up to what she might consider her base: And, that is a good definition of political courage.”

Seemingly surprised by Davis’ positive evaluation of Palin, Kiran remarked, “Yeah, it’s a little bit confusing, though, because a lot of the things that she said are the exact things that the Tea Party wants to happen: I mean from less government, lower government. In fact, let’s listen to what she said. This is at a rally in Senator Harry Reid’s hometown of Searchlight, Nevada, on Saturday.”

[On the tape, Palin proclaims, "We're not inciting violence. Don't get sucked into the lame stream media's lies about conservative America's standing up for freedom as inciting violence. Violence isn't the answer. It's a bunch of bunk what the media is trying to feed you. Don't let them divert attention from the debate."]

After the footage aired, Kiran continued, “So, she [Palin] seemed to brush off the media and brush off the violence and sort of point the finger at the media. She also…said it was ‘ginned up’ and she referred to the media as the ‘lame stream media.’ Mary, does that work, blaming the media, instead of talking more seriously about some of these quite credible threats that have happened in the wake of health care reform passing?”

Matalin retorted, “Well, I don’t know that they’re necessarily credible. All of that was videotaped, and they’ve yet to appear to be any credible appearances filmed. But, that’s not the issue here. The Tea Party activists, we should be careful not to paint them with a broad brush: They’re not monolithic: They are largely pulled together by their constitutionalism….They want less government or government closer to the people that’s more accountable. And, the main stream press was slow to come to cover them.”

Then, underscoring her disagreement with Kiran’s claim of “quite credible threats,” Matalin asserted, “But, these notions of violence and threats that that has happened, I don’t think is credible. And, secondly, that it never happens to Republicans or conservatives or by the hands of liberal activists is nonsense.”

Appearing to seek some support, Kiran queried, “Lanny, do you take the same thoughts as Mary when it comes to whether or not this is a bigger deal what we’ve been talking about?”

Offering little solace, Davis declared, “I’m sorry to disappoint your audience that wants some fireworks here. But, I do agree with Mary….[T]he Tea Party movement does represent conservative thinking but there are extremists in both sides that both parties need to repudiate, including Sarah Palin. There was evidence of some nasty behavior and she should repudiate that the same way Democrats should among the haters on the left of which there are many.”

Apparently disappointed, a slightly smiling Kiran concluded, “Alright, Mary Matalin and Lanny Davis, great to get your take this morning. Appreciate it.” As Mary and Lanny bid each other adieu, Kiran’s co-host John Roberts sympathetically chuckled in the background before he took the reins again. In response, Kiran’s seemingly forced smiled briefly broadened.

Clearly, Kiran missed her mark this morning. No kill: ergo, no meal. Hunting hint: Reload and shoot straight.

*American Morning – 03/29/10 (@8:11 a.m. ET)

Kiran & Kids Escape Flood

March 15, 2010

Today American Morning co-host Kiran Chetry’s Twitter followers knew but her other AM viewers were left strangely in the dark. Yesterday, after the Nor’easter had severely stricken her home county of Westchester, NY, Kiran Tweeted, “We had a bad flooding situation. The kids [Maya and Lil Chris], dog and me had to be rescued from house by fire dept on a front loader!!! CK [hubby Chris Knowles] raced home from wk”: she continued, “Flooding happened so fast. Basement a loss!…Thanks to all for prayers. Just so grateful kids r ok. Stuff is stuff. That’s not the imp thing.” Strangely, today, her fill-in Christine Romans made no mention of Kiran’s plight but simply stated that Kiran had the day off and her co-host John Roberts provided no further explanation.

Happily, Kiran seems to get it: she opened up to her fans and followers on a personal level. Unfortunately, her American Morning producers still do not. They seem to think that their audience merely wants a wire report from talking heads. Little to do they realize that their viewers want more: not only do they care about the important news of the day but also about the ones who daily deliver it to their homes.

Kiran, kudos! Klein, hopefully, you’re listening and learning.

Dead Show Airing?

March 11, 2010

A.M.: R.I.P.? After noting that American Morning co-hosts John Roberts and Kiran Chetry have seldom been seen behind the AM desk together lately and that a host of substitute co-anchors have been paraded before the AM audience, last week Carpe Diem asked, “AM: Shake-up Looming?” Yesterday, TheWrap.com answered in the affirmative–or, at least, indicated that it appears to be in the works. According to media expert Dylan Stableford (former Mediabistro.com managing editor and contributor to Salon, New York, and Rolling Stone), an inside source indicated that “CNN is testing a concept that would include personalities with dueling political ideologies and opinions” for “a new morning show pilot.”

Apparently, CNN/US prez Jon Klein has finally taken the blinders off. After trying to revitalize American Morning’s anemic ratings three years ago by bringing in seasoned journalist John Roberts and Fox News’ rising star Kiran Chetry, Klein’s endeavor has met with dismal disappointment. In fact, based on TVbytheNumbers.com’s figures and the author’s calculations, the total viewer ratings of 2010 (1st quarter) are identical to those of 2007 (1st quarter). Even more troubling, TheWrap.com reports that Nielsen numbers show that AM has declined 30% in 2010 in both total viewers and the prized 25-54 demographic.

According to Stableford, it is unclear what the purported changes mean for Roberts or Chetry. In the last few weeks, Roberts has been temped for by T.J. Holmes, Jim Acosta, and Christine Romans whereas Chetry has been filled in for by Sara Sidner and Kate Bolduan. In doing so, Klein has seemed to substitute AM regulars for Roberts and new faces for Chetry. Perhaps, he will keep this part of his formula but acribe to a more provocative, zanier, and, yes, “Friendlier” approach. [N.B. Roger Ailes' Fox & Friends shellacked Klein's American Morning by 4:1 (overall viewers) and by 3:1 (25-34 demog) in the latest numbers (03/09/10)]

As to Roberts and Chetry’s respective futures, a Klein canning could actually inure to their benefit ultimately. Roberts would be in a position to stake his claim anew to Uncle Walter’s seat if the old Tiffany network does not renew Katie Couric’s costly contract. And, Chetry may finally find redemption with her many fans at the top-rating cable news network if she is but granted Ailes’ absolution.

[Author's aside: Since Chetry's absences have been fewer than those of Roberts, Klein may be considering whether to keep Chetry. If so, he could use the former Fox & Friends (First & Weekend) co-host to guide CNN's version of FNC's morning news juggernaut.]

Hat tip to J$P (Johnny Dollar’s Place).

Kiran: Still a “Steal” 4 Klein?

March 6, 2010

In a comment to Carpe Diem’s “AM Shake-up Looming?,” one thoughtful reader left little doubt about his opinion. Johnny declared, “People acted like CNN/US prez Jon] Klein really stole one from Fox. Problem is he paid [American Morning co-host] Kiran [Chetry] 3 times what she was making at FNC and CNN got lower ratings with her. In the meantime, Fox & Friends has had record ratings with Gretchen [Carlson].”

The author’s response: Johnny, as to Kiran, I still think Klein did indeed get a “steal.” When Klein hired her, he aptly said, “As for Kiran, we’ve watched her light up the screen for years, and we are thrilled that she was able to join our team. She’s a breath of fresh air.” However, in my view, Klein has not allowed Kiran to fully blossom on AM as she had on Fox & Friends (First and Weekend editions).

After taking Kiran fresh from F&F with its fun, irreverent, and sexy take on the news, Klein put her on AM with its still too staid, strait-laced, and “white-shoe” approach. At CNN, Kiran does continue to “light up the screen” and to serve as a “breath of fresh air” but, she sometimes seems to do so now as simply a nice business colleague. In other words, whereas Kiran formerly would invite viewers into her F&F living room as old friends to inform and entertain them before they went to work, she now brings her audience into her AM office to brief them as associates for the day (with some occasional water cooler humor thrown in for good measure).

In short, Kiran appears captive to Klein’s cool, distant, and business-only approach to the news. Perhaps, Klein should take the blinders off and look at his towering competitor Fox & Friends (which as of March 4, 2010, had more than four times AM’s overall viewers). Perhaps, then he will finally see the virtues of a warmer, less distant, and more personal morning news show. Until he does, the author does not believe that Kiran’s value can be fully realized.

AM Shake-up Looming?

March 4, 2010

Almost three years after CNN/US prez Jon Klein brought in John Roberts and Kiran Chetry to replace American Morning co-anchors Miles O’Brien and Soledad O’Brien because of flagging ratings, it appears that he may be considering a similar shake-up. When Klein announced the change on April 4, 2007, AM total viewers averaged 372,000 (in 2007 first quarter) according to Broadcastingcable.com. Today, AM total viewers remain unchanged at 372,000 (in 2010 first quarter through March 1, 2010) according to TVbytheNumbers.com’s figures and the author’s computations.

In the last few weeks, Roberts and Chetry have been seen less and less together behind the AM desk. When either has been absent, it seems that the present one has been paired with a new guest co-anchor. In fact, Klein and/or AM EP Jamie Kraft have paraded before their audience a long list of fill-ins, e.g.,  regulars like T.J. Holmes and Christine Romans, a less frequent guest co-host (if ever before) Jim Acosta, and first-timers Sara Sidner and Kate Bolduan* as if it were an AM casting call.

If indeed Klein is considering such a change, it might actually inure to the benefit of both Roberts and Chetry. In re Roberts, perhaps, he will finally get his dream job that he lost to Katie Couric, i.e., the CBS Evening News anchor seat. (Was it he, rather than Anderson Cooper, who was reported talking with CBS executives about an anchor role as CBS News is cutting costs and Couric’s reportedly $15-million-per-year contract is set to expire in barely more than a year?) As to Chetry, maybe, FNC Senior Veep of Programming Bill Shine will let bygones be bygones if his former Fox & Friends (First and Weekend) co-host will embrace FNC anew (as her platinum standard vis-a-vis CNN as  her “gold standard”): Shine surely needs Chetry to add to the depth of his bevy of brainy beauties, especially if its rising star Megyn Kelly replaces Greta van Susteren on On the Record.

Perchance, Klein could jump start AM’s ratings with a new cast. And, simultaneously, Roberts and Chetry’s respective careers to boot. A possible win-win-win.

*American Morning – 03/04/10 – @5:59 a.m. ET [To guest co-host Bolduan, Roberts remarked, "Good to have you with us this morning. Your first day on dawn patrol."]


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