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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Eliot Spitzer To Replace Campell Brown? Or Roland Martin?

Campbell Brown Leaving CNN

Campbell Brown said Tuesday that she's quitting her prime-time show on CNN primarily for one reason: Not enough people are watching her.

CNN has struggled in the prime-time ratings as cable news viewers have increasingly sought edgier, more opinionated programming. Brown, a former NBC News reporter, advertised a "no bias, no bull" persona in a straight news and analysis program with a concentration on politics.

Brown said it was her decision to leave. She said she could say she was leaving to spend more time with her two young children or pursue new opportunities, and both would be partly true.

"But I have never had much tolerance for others' spin, so I can't imagine trying to stomach my own," she said. "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."

( is a joint venture between NBC and Microsoft.)

Nancy Grace on CNN's sister HLN network averages 745,000 viewers in the time slot, according to the Nielsen Co. Brown's show stands at 574,000.

CNN's prime-time problems with Brown, Larry King and Anderson Cooper have given rise to dozens of armchair program directors who have published advice this spring. Now CNN's executives will have their first shot at doing something new.

CNN/U.S. President Jon Klein said he respects Brown's decision and wishes her well. "We will announce our programming plans in the coming weeks," he said.

Brown's decision comes at a time when CNN has reportedly been talking with CBS News about ways to combine forces, although nothing has been publicly done.

CNN has tested its own ideas, and there's been talk of reviving some version of its old "Crossfire" political debate show, which was a template for opinionated talk on cable in the 1990s. CNN canceled the series soon after Comedy Central's Jon Stewart ridiculed it.

One segment that has appeared on Brown's show features Mary Matalin and Roland Martin in a political debate, an idea that could potentially be expanded.

Brown, who is leaving CNN entirely, noted in a statement her "indomitable" rivals on the other networks.

"Shedding my own journalistic skin to try to inhabit the kind of persona that might co-exist in that lineup is simply impossible for me," she said. "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."

Spitzer’s Name Arises as CNN Tries To Fill a Seat

As CNN moves to replace Campbell Brown in its struggling prime-time lineup, the most intriguing name on the channel’s list is Eliot Spitzer, the disgraced former governor of New York, The New York Times’s Brian Stelter writes.

Mr. Spitzer has held conversations — but so far only informal ones — about becoming a regular contributor to the cable news channel, The Times said, citing two people who were briefed on the matter. But the people said he was not being courted for an anchoring job, meaning he would not directly replace Ms. Brown in the channel’s 8 p.m. time slot.

That word sparked talk inside CNN this week, and even appeared in David Letterman’s monologue Tuesday night. His punch line: “That would be a switch — somebody paying him for an hour.”

Mr. Spitzer resigned the governorship in 2008 after it was revealed that he solicited prostitutes. As attorney general of New York, Mr. Spitzer earned the nickname the “Sheriff of Wall Street,” after he attacked what he considered to be rampant conflicts of interests at big Wall Street firms, winning settlements from many of the big banks.

Now, seemingly wrapping himself in the redemptive spirit of television, Mr. Spitzer is a budding pundit, and he has even tried his hand at anchoring on MSNBC, one of CNN’s competitors. His first two times as a substitute for the anchor Dylan Ratigan were well-received inside MSNBC last month, and he filled in again on Monday.

“He’s a smart guy, extremely smart, and he communicates well,” a cable news executive said of Mr. Spitzer. “The question about him is, how much stench is on him, and is he likable enough?”

MSNBC declined to comment on Mr. Spitzer’s status at the channel, The Times said. But two news executives said MSNBC was not in talks with him about a paid position at the channel. Like the people briefed on Mr. Spitzer’s conversations with CNN, the executives requested anonymity because they were not authorized by their employers to speak on the record.

“I am simply not saying anything about this issue,” Mr. Spitzer said in an e-mail message on Thursday.

As it contemplates what program to place in Ms. Brown’s time slot, CNN is considering a panel discussion program with various political voices. Mr. Spitzer could conceivably be a panelist.

A CNN spokeswoman said the channel would not comment on speculation.

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Sources: CNN, MSNBC, NY Times, Youtube, Google Maps

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