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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Klein’

Turning Down the Volume for ‘Crossfire’ 2.0


New “Crossfire” hosts (l-r) Stephanie Cutter, Van Jones, S.E. Cupp and Newt Gingrich.

When last we saw CNN’s “Crossfire,” it resembled a scene from “Animal House,” minus the togas.

Eight years later, “Crossfire” has learned its manners, according to CNN. Hosts will use their indoor voices, and will allow each other to finish sentences. The experiment begins at 6:30 tonight, with Newt Gingrich and Stephanie Cutter on set with two guests.

“You have to wait for someone to finish, then make your point,” says CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist, who began his CNN career as a “Crossfire” intern in 1989. “We get that. Obviously, it’s something to be mindful of. At the same time, we want to have passionate conversations.”

Even with what’s being billed as a kinder, gentler “Crossfire,” the question remains as to whether the conservative-vs.-liberal roundtable, launched in 1982, matters anymore in a radically altered cable topography.

Given that Fox News and MSNBC have become so polarized, a political program with both sides equally represented is more important than ever, says Charles Bierbauer, Dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Mass Communications and a CNN correspondent for 20 years.

“Whatever happened to the guy in the middle?” he opines.  “I, as a viewer, like more than one point of view on issues. We’ve evolved, or devolved, to the notion that tuning into Fox gives you a right wing, conservative perspective and tuning into MSNBC gives you a left wing, liberal perspective.”

Going a step further, Feist says CNN “is the only cable-news channel that is capable of hosting “Crossfire” in an authentic way…. We’re bipartisan. Our job is to represent all points of view. It’s hard to imagine viewers would trust other channels to offer a debate program with equally balanced hosts and guests.”

“Balance” often leads to a deafening decibel level. Toward the end, this was “Crossfire’s” hallmark, fueled even more by a vocal studio audience. In his infamous 2004 appearance, Jon Stewart decried the cacophony, which led, in part, to ex-CNN chief Jonathan Klein’s decision to euthanize the show.

“Crossfire’s” approach was emblematic of the time’s ‘argument culture,’ says Amy S. Mitchell, new director of Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

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Al Jazeera America On The Hunt For Chief

TheWrap’s Sharon Waxman weighs in on Al Jazeera America, which is currently on the lookout for a chief executive to run the new channel, which will take over the channel space of Current TV later this year.

Waxman has a list of names that she says are in consideration, and there are many familiar faces. Current TV chief David Bohrman is said not to be in the running, while Steve Capus is said to be “skeptical.”

One of the leading candidates, according to Waxman, is former CNN/U.S. chief Jonathan Klein:

Klein, who was fired in 2010, has the news experience and is believed to want the job. According to an individual with knowledge of his thinking, Klein believes there is a ripe opportunity for a news network to occupy the niche that CNN used to — in other words, hard-core reporting with serious journalists.

Others on the list include former CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker, former ABC News president David Westin and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward.

CNNers Past and Present Think Jeff Zucker is Just What the Network Needs

Former CNN president Jonathan Klein began hearing tales about “whiz kid” Jeff Zucker in the late ‘80s. It was a family thing.

Zucker’s mother was a teacher at Miami’s New World School of the Arts. Klein’s father, former principal of New York’s famed LaGuardia High School of Music and the Arts, was New World’s founding provost. The two became good friends.

At the time, Jonathan Klein discounted the Zucker stories as “the exaggerations of a Jewish mother,” he recalls. “I heard about this amazing kid and all his successes. When I finally met him, he turned out to be more amazing than even his publicist — his mother — had said.”

Zucker, 47, named last week as president of CNN Worldwide, will need plenty of “amazing” to turn things around at its foundering flagship network, CNN/U.S. But if anyone can do it, he can, according to Klein and numerous others.

“Jeff would live in a control room if he could,” says Klein (left), who’s launching another digital media company and has sold “a few” TV pilots.

“The staff is ecstatic to have a real news guy, a Hall of Famer in the news business, to run things,” Klein adds. “It really craves his brand of bold, dynamic leadership. He’s sure to bring a fresh perspective.”

According to several CNN employees – none of whom would speak for attribution – the beleaguered New York staff is practically counting the minutes until Zucker takes over next month. In a CNN first, he will be based out of New York instead of Atlanta – another plus, they say.

“I’m thrilled,” says a veteran on-air talent. “The place has obviously been drifting – no progress, no vision, no fixing of mistakes. It’s always great to be there for big breaking stories, but on a day-by-day basis, we’re getting slaughtered.”

A longtime CNN producer says the staff has been demoralized by a series of leaders with inadequate TV skills . “A lot of people in charge haven’t had the resume to do the job. They talk big, but they don’t have the capacity to deliver. It’s been mystifying how unqualified people have been hired, over and over again.

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CNN Shift: Lou Dobbs on Jon Klein

There is no love lost between ex-CNN anchor Lou Dobbs and Jonathan Klein, the man who fired him in November.

That’s why Dobbs made no attempt to disguise his glee yesterday when asked for a comment on Klein’s sudden departure earlier that day as CNN/U.S. president

“I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that today is my birthday,” Dobbs told TV Newser, chuckling. “But you’d have to confirm with CNN management that it’s a coincidence.”

For the record, Dobbs claims to be 47. He’s only off by 18 years.

En route to his birthday dinner with his kids and grandkids, Dobbs said he was thrilled with CNN’s naming HLN’s Ken Jautz as Klein’s successor.

“I like and respect Ken. We’ve been friends for years. I don’t think they could have done better than select him. I just wish they had done it a lot sooner.”

CNN Shift: Jon Klein on his dismissal: ‘It came out of left field’

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.

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CNN’s Walton: ‘Our journalism is the currency of the national conversation’

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Roland Martin, Mary Matalin, David Gergen, Candy Crowley, John King and Wolf Blitzer speak as moderator Anderson Cooper looks on at CNN + HLN Newsmakers 2010 at Jazz at Lincoln Center this morning.

As we mentioned last night, CNN held its “Newsmakers” upfront for advertisers at Time Warner Center today. The presentation included separate panels made up of CNN (News) and HLN (Views) anchors. As I’m in Las Vegas at the 2010 NAB/RTDNA and Kevin is in China on non TVNewser-related business (ie. vacation) here are some of the write-ups:

Marisa Guthrie and Alex Weprin / Broadcasting & Cable: The cable news channel made its commitment to journalism the centerpiece of its presentation, which it called “Newsmakers.” “We are the only credible, non partisan voice left, and that matters,” said Jim Walton, president of CNN Worldwide. “Our traditional competitors have abandoned the field.”

Stuart Elliott / NYTimes: …executives alluded to the recent spate of news articles about CNN’s poor ratings in the first quarter as Fox News, part of the News Corporation, and MSNBC, part of NBC Universal, stay ahead of CNN in prime time. Mr. Walton referred lightly to “all the great coverage we’ve had” and [EVP of sales & marketing Greg] D’Alba said that “there’s no way” the complete story was being told about CNN’s performance.

Gillian Reagan / Business Insider: Although rival networks like Fox News and MSNBC were not named during the presentation, they were referenced in executives speeches – as a way to explain what the network doesn’t plan to do. Jonathan Klein, president for CNN U.S., said the network doesn’t plan on taking on characteristics of competitors who bring in brash hosts and parade a series of guests “who agree with him.”

Matea Gold / LATimes: “It’s not as dire as maybe some people say,” Walton said in an interview following the event, adding: “I’m not satisfied with the ratings, but I’m not concerned.” He also praised the leadership of Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S., calling him “brilliant” and a “great journalist.” For his part, Klein said in a separate interview that while he believes CNN’s prime-time shows can do a better job of engaging viewers and keeping them watching longer, he is happy with their quality.

(Photo Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

More Debate About Dobbs

Got 10 minutes? Check out this clip from “Reliable Sources” (before CNN pulls it off YouTube).

Radio talker Chris Plante, along with media critics David Zurawik and Eric Deggans debate the departure of Lou Dobbs.

Says Zurawik: “Jonathan Klein fired a nice shot across his bow in July. If an editor did that to me, I would stop being a hotdog, gasbag, popoff like Lou Dobbs and I would think about reigning it in.”

Anderson Cooper, Lewis Black and More at Time Warner

black_10-13.jpgcooper_10-13.jpgTVNewser will be attending, “Politics 2008 — The Media Conference for the Election of the President,” co-hosted by Time Magazine and CNN at the Time Warner Center, today and tomorrow (FishbowlNY will be there as well).

After the conference kicks off with a welcome from Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes, TVNewser will Twitter throughout the keynote roundtable beginning at 12:45pmET, moderated by CNN’s Campbell Brown. The panel features CNN/U.S. president Jonathan Klein, Time Magazine managing editor Richard Stengel, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter and Politico’s Jim Vandehei. (Follow TVNewser on Twitter.)

Other sessions today feature panelists ranging from CBS’ Jeff Greenfield to CNN’s Candy Crowley, and things close out with an interview between Anderson Cooper and comedian Lewis Black.

Tomorrow Dan Rather talks media bias, Christiane Amanpour and Wolf Blitzer discuss the global perception of the U.S. and more.

Stay tuned to TVNewser tonight and tomorrow for video, pictures and posts about the conference.