Throwback Thursday: “CNN & Friends?” Is Kiran Chetry Getting the Hook?

When The Cable Gamer read this item in The Wrap about big changes coming for CNN’s morning day part, she was puzzled: She had thought that CNN had grown too big for mere television.

But as Dylan Stableford writes, CNN is, in fact, tinkering—more than tinkering:

CNN s developing a new morning show pilot, with a format closer to MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and “Fox & Friends” than anything it has ever done, TheWrap has learned. . . . According to one source familiar with the network’s development process, CNN is testing a concept that would include personalities with dueling political ideologies and opinions. That would be a bit of a departure for CNN, which considers itself to be a bipartisan, journalistically-driven network unlike its rivals at Fox News and MSNBC.

The story in The Wrap was obviously a planned leak to a hot insider publication, and so as a result, Stableford didn’t put any spin or context on the story–that would be an insult to his source. So he just reports his scoop, and leaves it at that. Which means, of course, that the rest of us, scoopless as we are, must provide the proper framing for The Wrap‘s story. And the real frame is the failure of CNN to get anything going in the morning, for decades now. That’s a failure that precedes, even, CNN prexy Jon Klein. And now CNN wants to fix that by cloning “Fox & Friends.” Or trying to.

Yet again, all this rejiggering of CNN’s morning lineup is interesting, of course, because lately the Alfred E. Neuman-esque* Klein has been saying that there’s no need to worry about CNN’s tumbling ratings, because CNN has now gone digital–its big competition is from social networks, such as Facebook. (You knew that, didn’t you? If you didn’t, see yesterday’s TCG post.)

So does this spell doChetry Getting the Hookom for the current co-hosts of “American Morning,” John Roberts and Kiran Chetry? TCG has always liked Roberts, but Chetry is a more interesting story. She is the more dominant of the two on the air, and it’s her picture appearing in The Wrap‘s story. Interestingly, her contract is likely up for renewal right about now, since she joined CNN three years ago, in February 2007, after she was terminated by Fox, because her agent, John Ferreter, was, well, ferreting around. Indeed, Chetry’s fate sort of reminds TCG of the fate of Paula Zahn who was fired by FNC in 2001, and has been crashing and burning ever since, albeit she hasn’t missed any meals.

So is this another morning show failure for CNN? CNN is known for many programming changes–specifically in the morning. Klein replaced the perky Soledad O’Brien and the solid Miles O’Brien back a few year ago with Chetry and Roberts, and yet the ratings for “American Morning” have continued downward.

Indeed, HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade” is not only beating “American Morning” in the all important 25-54 demo but it’s also showing growth while AM is declining by double digits.

Here’s a look at the ratings, Year-to-date ’10 vs, Year-to-date ’09:

  • FNC’s “Fox & Friends”: 1,108,000 in total viewers (up 8%) – 383,000 in 25-54 (up 15%)
  • CNN’s “American Morning”: 364,000 in total viewers (down 30%) – 137,000 in 25-54 (down 30%)
  • MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”: 346,000 in total viewers (down 22%) – 103,000 in 25-54 (down 39%)
  • HLN’s “Morning Express with Robin Meade”: 319,000 (up 21%) – 181,000 in 25-54 (up 29%)

But again, why is CNN bothering with all this, since everybody knows that CNN’s competition is Facebook?

*Neuman, as in Alfred E. Neuman, the original “What, Me Worry?” guy.

Original comments:

Anonymous said…
As someone who surfs all the morning shows; F&F, Morning Joe, CNN, and HLN (Robin Meade & Co) I’ll offer this. If CNN wants to have a hit follow Robin Meade’s lead. When I watch Robin & Co I get the news without the talking heads presenting Dem talking points (Morning Joe and CNN) or RNC talking points(F&F) or the hosts personal biases. I honestly don’t know which way Robin and her crew lean which is the way I like it. Her show provides very balanced reporting of the news and issues. I would take Robin Meade and her crew and just give them an expanded show where they might have more time to provide both sides of the story and let their personalities come out.
4:20 PM

Anonymous said…
I think the odds of Chetry getting bumped from CNN are highly unlikely. From what I can tell, Kiran loves CNN and they love her back. She has said that it was her dream to someday work for CNN. If Jon Klein makes a change to the morning show, I believe that Kiran will remain as a big part of it. Have you seen Chetry lately? She looks relaxed and happy. It’s not what you’d normally see from a news anchor who thinks they are ready to be out of a job.
3:31 PM

Reposted from The Cable Game, 11 March 2010

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