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CNN lineup looking much better without Spitzer

The Baltimore Sun

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.

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