As one media reporter who was genuinely concerned about the turn CNN seemed to be taking last year when it hired Eliot Spitzer, I am not going to try and hide how impressed and pleased I am with the lineup the cable news network announced today.
Yes, I am happy that Spitzer is gone. I thought his presence threatened the credibility and trust that CNN had built over the years through the hard and principled work of its journalists.
But I am also encouraged about the future of CNN shown by its clear commitment to journalists like John King and Wolf Blitzer.
Moving King to 6 p.m. from 7, and sliding Blitzer up to 4 p.m. from 5, is a wise choice that provides viewers with three hours of fact-based, reliable information in and around the dinner hour. With three hours of Blitzer and King, no one can complain about there being a dearth of trustworthy reporting, analysis and context of the day's events on American television.
The move also acknowledges the reality of the prime-time marketplace for cable TV. CNN did have to try and get a better ratings lead-in to the 8 p.m. start of prime time, as well as a stronger 8 p.m. performer than the blighted "Parker-Spitzer" and then Spitzer's "In the Arena."
We will have to wait to see how Erin Burnett does in that new 7 p.m. role. starting in September. Her success is going to be important to the entire night given that she replays at 11. The other key move involves moving Anderson Cooper to 8 p.m. with a replay at 10.
Cooper is never going to be as valuable to anyone else as he is to CNN, because he cuts it both ways, He has some prime-time, celebrity, marquee mojo, but when big news breaks, he can function as a first-rate, on-the-ground journalist. In fact, when big news breaks, he's one of the best there is. I hope his commitments to his new daily talk show don't cut into his ability to hit the ground running on a moment's notice for CNN.
It appears that CNN tried to offer Spitzer some options or at least a graceful exit, saying it was looking at other possible ways for him to contribute to the network, but he issued a statement through his publicist indicating that he was done with CNN. His statement could be read as suggesting he was too "serious" for the network -- a suggestion that's laughable, but perfectly in keeping with what I see as Spitzer's narcissism.
But who cares about Spitzer. As we enter an all-important election cycle during these incredible troubling times, it is reassuring to know there is one 24-hour source of news and information that can be trusted -- a channel that is not surrendering to ideological pandering and tabloid priorities.
The "AC360" move to 8 p.m. will take place Aug 8., while Burnett will join the scheduled at a date yet to be announced in September.