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Posts Tagged ‘Soledad O’Brien’

CNN ‘Starting Point’ Staffers Brace Themselves

The announcement that CNN is totally revamping its morning show and scrapping Soledad O’Brien‘s “Starting Point” has sent shivers through her staff.

Insiders tell us Executive VP Ken Jautz and VP Bart Feder addressed the staff after the show went off the air today. Suffice it to say, the era of Jeff Zucker is underway.

In a nutshell, the execs said they have no answers for the staff and were unable to address most of their questions. Members of the staff were assured their jobs were safe, but one veteran of the changing show carousel at CNN says they would be naive to believe that.

“Every single one of these people should be preparing their resumes and trying to get out of that building as fast as possible,” a network insider told FishbowlDC, explaining that staffers are worried for their jobs. The prevailing feeling is that O’Brien, who previously worked with Zucker at NBC, will end up in another role.

For the month of January, “Starting Point” drew an average of 264,000 viewers. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” drew 468,000 and FNC’s “Fox & Friends” drew 1.07 million. “Morning Express” on HLN drew 218,000. The broadcast shows (CBS, ABC, NBC) drew millions more than any of the aforementioned programs. In other words, “Starting Point” is behind everyone except its sister network HLN, and HLN is getting close.

Another network insider with a vantage point to this morning’s meeting said it was hilarious to watch Jautz and Feder address the “Starting Point” staff, considering they were two of the main culprits who contributed to the potential demise and dismantling of the show.

From day one, “Starting Point” was in disarray, according to multiple sources aware of the drama going on behind the scenes of the show. It wasn’t supposed to debut in January, 2012, but the decision was made to rush it on the air to coincide with the Iowa caucus. From its launch the show was never fully staffed; all the promises of branding and promotion never materialized; and the constant executive in-fighting over what to do with the show angered its host and staff.

Former CNN Managing Editor Mark Whitaker, who announced his resignation Tuesday, loved the panel format because he desired the show to have the same buzz as MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” But Jautz hated the panel, resulting in it being downsized from 7-9 a.m. to 7:30 to 9 a.m. And when Soledad was off, the panel was only on from 8-9 a.m.

Jautz also detested a single-anchor format. He preferred a two-anchor format, even going as far as focus-group testing Brooke Baldwin and John Berman when O’Brien was away.

So as Whitaker and Jautz waged a constant battle over who would control the destiny of CNN – a scenario set up by then-CNN President Jim Walton when he divided up the duties of Jon Klein when he was canned – “Early Start” and “Starting Point” were ground zero for their battle.

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Memo to CNN: Free Ali Velshi!

Throughout the relentless storm last night, reporters in Washington and beyond expressed deep concern for CNN’s breakout star, Ali Velshi, who spent much of the day and night knee and waist deep in water. On his birthday, no less. At one point shirtless pranksters joined him in the water. TVNewser has the video. Let’s hope the network gave him a change of clothes.

“Ali, I’m glad to see you in one piece, quiet frankly,” remarked CNN’s Soledad O’Brien to Velshi early this morning in an interview with the correspondent who appeared to be in the exact outfit he wore last night — dark sports pants, red pullover, sneakers, baseball cap.

“CNN, please let Ali Velshi live.” — HuffPost‘s Sam Stein.

“I’m going to collect donations to help Ali Velshi with what is undoubtedly a serious case of swamp foot. #aliisahero#10hoursinthewater.” — Will Cain, CNN Contributor and columnist for TheBlaze.com.

“Why is CNN having Ali Velshi standing in the middle of a barren intersection?” — CNBC and NYT‘s John Harwood.

“Dear CNN, et al: get your reporters out of the water. You look stupid.” — NationalReviewOnline Contributor Greg Pollowitz.

“Now CNN is making Ali Velshi stand in the hurricane during a commercial break so they can come back to him afterwards. Amazing.” — Washington City Paper Editor Mike Madden at 4:14 p.m. At 10:30 p.m. Madden added, “CNN, seriously. You have tortured Ali Velshi enough. Whatever he’s done, he will never do it again. Let him go inside.”

“I’ve concluded that Ali Velshi has the world’s strongest legs, and a brilliant sound man.” — CNN’s Piers Morgan.

“ALI WE GET IT. IT’S BAD OUT THERE.” — Politico‘s Kate Nocera (who couldn’t get away from all-caps messages throughout the night.)

“I really want to hear Chris Christie’s reaction to what Ali Velshi is doing right now.” — NPR Elections Producer Arnie Seipel.

“Amazing reporting by Ali Velshi from Atlantic City under terrible conditions. (It’s also his birthday.)” — CNN Senior Digital Producer Steve Krakauer.

“Why can’t CNN just put a hologram of Ali Velshi in the middle of all that water?” — Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy magazine.

“I’ve never had a desire to stand in the middle of a storm to tell someone else not to come outside. I can do that from a studio! LOL” — CNN Contributor Roland Martin.

Roland Martin Fans Wake to Pleasant Surprise

Fans of CNN Contributor Roland Martin were pleased as punch to see him all over the network’s morning programs today for a debate roundtable debrief with Soledad O’Brien. He appeared on CNN’s “Starting Point.” Leading up to the presidential debates, followers on Twitter were outraged that the network gave him the shaft for late-night coverage.

This morning they let out a collective sigh of relief. Too many to print, but here’s a sampling: 1. “Thanks for speaking common sense & standing your ground this morning!!!!” 2. “It’s always nice to start the morning with the TRUTH!” 3. “CNN, More Roland Martin, please.” 4. “Never watch CNN! Ur on, I’m glued to the TV! Keep bringing the funk! Loved it!!”

And apparently Martin, on the move as usual, is breaking down the debate wherever he goes. He wrote on Twitter this afternoon, “The Delta counter rep at Laguardia is hilarious! She wanted a personal breakdown on the debate. I hooked her up LOL.”

Lawmaker Rubs Bad Press in Romney’s Face

Presumed GOP Presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been getting a boatload of bad international press. This morning Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) pointed this out to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien on the morning program “Starting Point.”

“I would summarize it: not ready for primetime,” Cummings told her in a morning interview. “Clearly, the comment in England about the Olympics — you would think that someone who dealt with the Olympics here in the United States would be much mor esensitive with regard to those kind of issues to go into a country and criticize the organizers. Then I found the Palestinian comment to be quite offensive and I can understand the feelings of the Palestinians. And now, this fellow here in Poland, making the comment that he made.” Cummings acted like the press really can’t be blamed. “You’ve got a really frustrated press corp that have only had three questions answered by Mr. Romney during the trip.”

Cummings was referring to Romney Press Sec. Rick Gorka cussing at reporters in Poland.

Apart from his day job, the congressman partakes in a little journalism. He writes a bi-weekly column for The Baltimore Afro-American, more commonly referred to as The Afro. The weekly newspaper was founded by a former slave.

Watch the segment here.

Breitbart.com and Daily Caller Editors Lash Back at Politico’s Suspended Scribe Joseph Williams

Not exactly known to be wallflowers, Editors at Breitbart.com and The Daily Caller fought back today against comments made by Politico‘s suspended White House Correspondent Joseph Williams this morning on Current TV’s “Full Court Press.”

Williams repeatedly blamed the publications for the hype surrounding his suspension and said publications like The Daily Caller and Breitbart.com were “in the business of gathering scalps.”

FBDC reached out to brass at Breitbart.com and The Daily Caller to see how they’re reacting to his accusations.

John Nolte, an editor at Breitbart.com, a site that regularly lays into Politico for being what they claim is left wing and MSM, said Williams has their intentions all wrong and says he hopes Politico higher ups go easy on him.

“Breitbart news isn’t after ‘scalps,’” he wrote. “This is about exposing to the general public who the media is and what the media does. Our so-called media watchdogs won’t hold the media accountable, so it’s up to New Media and the general public to do so. Like Keith Olbermann, Soledad O’Brien, Ben Smith or Ken Vogel — that job is only made easier when a Joe Williams is employed as a “reporter” at a Politico or any other left-wing news outlet disguising itself as objective. We not only hope Politico keeps Mr. Williams on, we hope they promote him from White House Correspondent to Senior White House Correspondent.”

Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson, who has sparred with reporters at Politico for years and repeatedly tied Politico to MSNBC to brand the publication as left wing, remarked, “Supposedly objective White House correspondent accuses GOP candidate of racism on the basic of no evidence? Seemed like a pretty obvious story to us,” he wrote by email. “By the way, Williams made those comments in public, on Twitter, so I’d hate to think it took our piece to get his bosses to notice he’s a nut, though that’s what he claims.”

CNN’s Costello to Atlanta

Having just revamped their mornings with Soledad O’Brien and “Starting Point”, CNN is now adding Washington-based Carol Costello to their morning lineup, FishbowlDC has learned. Costello will move from DC to Atlanta to begin anchoring CNN Newsroom from 9-11am.

Kyra Phillips will move to 11am, followed by Suzanne Malveaux from noon to 2pm. The changes are taking place as Randi Kaye, who was filling in temporarily on CNN Newsroom, becomes the permanent anchor for CNN Weekend mornings.  Kaye will also do investigative reporting for AC 360 weeknights.

Fish Food

(A Sprinkling of Things we Think you Ought to Know…)

Happy Birthday to FLOTUS – A Thursday afternoon email from Barack Obama is asking citizens to sign a virtual birthday card for his wife, Michelle. FLOTUS turns 48 years old on Tuesday. The email says, “This fall, Michelle and I will have been married 20 years. The next 10 months will be harder than any we’ve experienced together, and I couldn’t do it without her. I knwo she’d love to hear from you today.” Ok, fine, we signed the card..And then we were immediately directed to a donation page for the Obama re-election campaign. Really? Can’t I just re-gift the smoothie maker I got for Christmas?

Perhaps He Should Be on the Steer-ing Committee Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) loves his beef. In a recent NYT profile, he admitted that when he travels to Washington, D.C. from his home state, he packs his luggage withroasts, ribs, round steak and rib steak.” In Tester’s eyes, there’s no beef in D.C. quite like the beef he gets back home in Montana. Tester continues, “Taking meat with us is just something that we do,” Senator Tester, 55, said over a meal of beef stroganoff cooked by his wife, Sharla, in their Capitol Hill town house. “We like our own meat.” What’s the best way to eat meat of such high quality? According to the Tester’s, their favorite recipe is “smothered in canned cream-of-mushroom soup and a squirt of ketchup, cooked down in a slow cooker.”

Soledad Versus Jodi Kantor Soledad O’Brien pulled no punches with NYT’s Jodi Kantor Friday morning on CNN. HuffPost reports that Kantor, out promoting her book, The Obamas, had to defend the portrait she painted of FLOTUS in the book. Michelle Obama has spoken out about how this isn’t the first time someone has tried to make her out to be the “angry black woman.” Check out the video of the two journos scrapping.


CNN Screens “Don’t Fail Me” Documentary

On Monday evening, CNN hosted a reception and screening of documentary “Don’t Fail Me” at the National Cable & Telecommunications Association Theater in Washington, D.C.  The film, which takes a hard look at education in America, is part of the CNN ‘In America’ series.

Following the screening, CNN anchor and special correspondent Soledad O’Brien moderated a panel, which included: Sean Cavanaugh, staff writer for Education Week; Dr. Steve Perry, CNN education contributor and founder/principal of Capital Prep Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut; Linda Rosen, PhD, executive officer, Change the Equation; Jon Dudas, president, F.I.R.S.T.; and Louis Malfaro, secretary-treasurer of the Texas American Federation of Teachers.

The film will premiere on Sunday May 15th at 8pm ET and re-air Saturday, May 21st on CNN.

Gwen and Soledad Are Now Sorority Sisters

Gwen Ifill, managing editor of “Washington Week” and a senior correspondent host of PBS’s “The News Hour,” and CNN’s Soledad O’Brien are now sorority sisters for life after being inducted into the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority earlier this week. We don’t believe any hazing happened before they were pronounced honorary sorority sisters.

“I’ve been waiting a long time to say, ‘hey sorors!’” O’Brien wrote on Twitter.  “To have a sisterhood that supports you is heartening…Before I would say that service is what you do, now I say it’s what we do.”

Founded in 1913 at Howard University, the sorority is comprised of 200,000 predominately black college educated women. Notable Deltas (as they are dubbed) include Shirley Chisholm, the first female black member of Congress, Dorothy Height, who was president of the National Council of Negro Women for more than 40 years and former Reps. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio), who died in 2008 from a cerebral hemorrhage, and Carrie Meek (D-Fla.).

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien: Ambition is Her Middle Name

soledad O'Brien .jpgPolitico’s Patrick Gavin unearths the grittier details on CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. For instance, she cusses. Additionally, a boss once told her she was “ambitious” and it wasn’t necessarily a compliment.

Read the story.

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