Getting shot as a way of being fired isn’t always a bad thing, says Jonathan Klein.
“It’s like a sudden ’Sopranos’ ending to your job,” says Klein, who earlier today had compared his sudden departure as CNN/U.S. president to getting shot.
“There’s something to be said for quick and painless. It was surprising, but certainly quick. There was no rancor associated it.”
During his six-year run, Klein was unable to stop the prime-time bleeding with non-partisan programming. Conversely, his replacement, HLN’s Ken Jautz, found great success by wrangling big-buzz opinion-makers Nancy Grace and Glenn Beck.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Klein says it is still possible for a cable news network to succeed in prime time without having a political spin a la Fox (right) or MSNBC (left.) The key is in finding the right talent.
“Other networks might be amusing or entertaining, but how many are truly essential viewing,” Klein says. “The challenge is to be interesting when you follow that non-partisan path and you really nail it. Then you become essential, like ’60 Minutes.’
“You need the right people in the right format. When CNN was at its best, we were essential viewing.”
Like other industry experts, Klein says the timing of his forced exit was unexpected, given that his new shows are about to launch – “Parker Spitzer” at 8 p.m. early next month and Piers Morgan at 9 in early ’11.
“It came out of left field,” says Klein, who has more than two years remaining in his contract. “I thought my reckoning would come a few months after the launches. I thought the judgment would be made on the quality of the shows and the ratings and the profits of the operation.