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Report: Campbell Brown Leaving CNN

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Breaking: News emerging that CNN’s Campbell Brown will leave the network. Mediaite’s Steve Krakauer reports that CNN has granted Brown’s request to be let out of her contract early, and that Brown will remain as primetime anchor of her eponymous show until a replacement is found:

A source with knowledge of the situation tells Mediaite Brown made the request months ago — and before all the ‘how to fix CNN’ articles began rolling out. We hear she originally lobbied for the 7pmET opening, with the thinking the show would work better at an earlier hour (and without the Bill O’Reilly/Keith Olbermann competition). The plan was denied by CNN, she asked for her release.

A CNN spokesperson would not confirm the report and told TVNewser, “A lot has been written and said about CNN lately. We don’t comment on
speculation.”

The NYTimes’ Brian Stelter confirmed the news with an unnamed source (More at NYT’s Media Decoder).

Brown joined CNN in 2007 after 11 years at NBC News. At the time, Brown told TVNewser, “What I am doing carries risk, but I wanted the challenge.”

Update: In a very heartfelt and candid statement, Brown acknowledges that she is stepping down from her anchor spot in large part due to the show’s struggling ratings, and emphasizes that it was her decision: “The simple fact is that not enough people want to watch my program, and I owe it to myself and to CNN to get out of the way so that CNN can try something else.” Brown’s full statement after the jump.

CNN/US President Jon Klein also released a statement: “Today is about Campbell. We want to wish her well as she begins the next phase of her life. We respect her decision to leave. We will announce our programming plans in the coming weeks.”

I knew on the day that I accepted my job at CNN that a ratings victory at 8pm was going to be a formidable challenge. As I have been told over and over, this is the toughest timeslot in cable news. That is obviously due to the incredible talents of my 8pm competitors. I have also always marveled whenever a television anchor says that he or she pays no attention to ratings. I’m pretty sure the last time any anchor could honestly ignore ratings was well before I was born. Of course I pay attention to ratings. And simply put, the ratings for my program are not where I would like them to be. It is largely for this reason that I am stepping down as anchor of CNN’s “Campbell Brown”.

To be clear: this is my decision, and one that I have been thinking about for some time. As for why, I could have said, that I am stepping down to spend more time with my children (which I truly want to do). Or that I am leaving to pursue other opportunities (which I also truly want to do). But I have never had much tolerance for others’ spin, so I can’t imagine trying to stomach my own. The simple fact is that not enough people want to watch my program, and I owe it to myself and to CNN to get out of the way so that CNN can try something else.

CNN will have to figure out what that is. The 8pm hour in cable news world is currently driven by the indomitable Bill O’Reilly, Nancy Grace and Keith Olbermann. Shedding my own journalistic skin to try to inhabit the kind of persona that might co-exist in that line up is simply impossible for me. It is not who I am or who I want to be; nor is it who CNN asked me to be at any point. This is the right decision for me and I hope it will be a great opportunity for CNN.

Since its launch three decades ago CNN has strived to be an independent, credible and enduring source of news. While the rest of the cable news world moved to opinion, CNN allowed me to stay true to my hard-news roots and supported me with a true commitment to old-school journalism. There is plenty of debate now about whether real journalism even has a place in primetime. I may be taking myself out of that debate on a nightly basis, but I am truly proud of the work we have done on this program and I do still believe that journalism has an essential place in primetime and at all times. I am also especially proud of the people who put this show on the air every night. They are an amazing, dedicated, loyal and caring team. To them, I will be forever grateful.

My plan right now is to help CNN through any transition, and then to enjoy, for the very first time, the nightly ritual of “Good Night Moon” and good night kisses with my two little boys. I wish my CNN colleagues all the best. And as long as bedtime doesn’t conflict with primetime, I will be watching and pulling for them.

Campbell Brown

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