After less than a year, former New York governor Eliot Spitzer is out at CNN.
Spitzer, a Democrat who left his gubernatorial office in disgrace in 2008 after his involvement in a prostitution ring, launched his 8 p.m. talk show on CNN last October opposite conservative columnist Kathleen Parker. CNN wanted to dip its toes into more opinionated waters but also provide some semblance of balance. It didnt’ work. Parker left in February after reports that the pair did not click. Viewership wasn’t particularly good either.
CNN’s ratings have been up in recent months, and there was no advance rumors that Spitzer would be cut. Anderson Cooper, whose show had been airing at 10 p.m., will take over the 8 p.m. slot (with a repeat at 10 p.m.). Erin Burnett, who recently came over to CNN from CNBC, will host a news program at 7 p.m. starting in September while John King’s program will be pushed back an hour to 6.
Piers Morgan, who debuted his show in January to replace Larry King, will remain at 9 p.m.
Wolf Blitzer’s Situation Room gets cut an hour to 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“The new line-up showcases anchors who are experienced reporters in covering stories that span the globe,” said Ken Jautz, executive vice president, CNN/U.S. in a press release.
Spitzer released a statement about his departure:
“We engaged serious people in conversations about national and global issues in a way that was informative and challenging,” Spitzer said. “I believe that we provided diverse and valuable perspectives during the show’s tenure. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at CNN.”
Spitzer’s show averaged 594,000 viewers the first six months of the year, according to Nielsen statistics, compared to 3 million for Bill O’Reilly on Fox News and 984,000 for MSNBC, which was first Keith Olbermann, then Lawrence O’Donnell. That’s actually up over 2010. But he was eclipsed in June by HLN’s Nancy Grace, who was riding high on Casey Anthony trial coverage.
Bob Furnad, a former executive vice president at CNN and president at CNN Headline News (now HLN), said Spitzer’s departure did not surprise him. “Larry King’s show was driven by whoever the guests were. Spitzer has had some first-rate guests and hasn’t been able to get the numbers,” Fernad said. “People didn’t cotton to him.”
Paul Levinson, a media professor at Fordham University in New York, couldn’t believe CNN thought Spitzer would make a quality TV host.
“He was a rather plodding, intense governor,” he said. “I never saw him as a good fit for TV. His show was lackluster. He was articulate enough but even his positions lacked the command of Bill O’Reilly on Fox or Keith Olbermann on Current TV or even Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC.”
On the other hand, placing Cooper at 8 p.m. makes sense, Levinson said. “He’s CNN’s most attractive news anchor in terms of having a devoted audience. It’s a wise move to place your strongest person at 8 p.m.” He isn’t a fan of repeating shows before midnight, though.
AP contributed to this story.
By Rodney Ho, firstname.lastname@example.org, AJCRadioTV blog