CNN's John King Looks Headed for Exit in Jeff Zucker Shakeup

Thursday, 31 Jan 2013 01:49 PM

By Michael Mullins

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CNN Chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper is in, CNN chief national correspondent John King is out, reports the Daily Mail.

Weeks after Jeff Zucker took over as president of CNN, the struggling cable news network may be having its second major personnel shakeup in days.

On Wednesday, The Daily Mail reported that CNN will be replacing King, 49, a veteran correspondent at the network, with Tapper, a former ABC correspondent. Tapper was considered by many to be one of the few journalists critical of President Barack Obama in the White House press corps.

According to The Mail, King has already relocated from his office to make way for Tapper, who was poached last month by Zucker.

Sources close to the situation also tell The Mail that King has yet to sign a new contract with CNN, having instead extended his current contract at the end of 2012 for an unspecified amount of time.

In contrast, Tapper has already received his own weekday show, courtesy of Zucker, which is scheduled to premiere this spring. Tapper, who debuted on CNN last week, told Media Bistro that he will likely fill the 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. slot currently occupied by Wolf Blitzer’s "Situation Room," which will be scaled back to 5p.m. to 7 p.m.

"It’s a little premature, but anything’s possible. Jeff says he wants to do a lot of different things. Everything’s on the table. But maybe 4 p.m. will ultimately be a great place to be. It’s when viewers start getting serious about news. Its valuable real estate," said Tapper.

In addition to having his show "John King USA" cancelled last summer due to disappointing ratings, King also divorced CNN's senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash, 40, last March. Bash, who gave birth to King's child in June 2011, is a favorite at the network.
CNN refused to comment on the King speculation, telling The Mail that they do not discuss personnel contracts.

Zucker, NBC Universal’s former chief executive, was hired to shake up the network, which has seen its ratings decline significantly in recent years, with the cable news network having its worst prime-time ratings in twenty-one years during the 2012 2nd quarter.

Since Zucker's arrival in January, five major contributors have left the network.

The most significant are the married couple, Democratic strategist James Carville and Republican advisor Mary Matalin, who confirmed on Tuesday they would be ending their contract with CNN.

According to Media Bistro's FishbowlDC, others recent departures at CNN include conservative commentator Bill Bennett, Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, and Mark Whitaker, CNN's executive vice president and managing editor.

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