CNN's Soledad O'Brien Being Pushed Out by Jeff Zucker, Say Sources

Wednesday, 20 Feb 2013 01:16 PM

By Dale Eisinger

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CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien is leaving her morning spot on the news network and it's still not clear where she may end up — though it won't be at CNN.

O'Brien is being ousted by relatively new chief executive Jeff Zucker, according to two anonymous sources talking to the New York Post.

O'Brien will be replaced in the mornings by current afternoon host Erin Burnett, who will sit alongside Chris Cuomo. One source told the Post's Page Six that O'Brien had been willing to leave as "Starting Point" host after being promised a primetime spot, perhaps flipping times with Burnett, but that has failed to materialize.

“The deal to move Erin to the morning alongside Cuomo is basically done," one of the anonymous sources said. "Soledad had been told she’d get a prime-time slot, but that hasn’t yet happened, and now she is telling friends she is likely to leave."

“Soledad is talented at producing in-depth, serious pieces of journalism, and is a tough interviewer," the source added. "That doesn’t seem to fit the direction the network is going.”

The second source echoed that. “Soledad is a big star, and would only stay for the right show. There’s word there will be a flurry of announcements at CNN very soon, including Erin’s move to the morning.”

Zucker was O'Brien's boss when the two were both at NBC. Zucker moved over to helm CNN when Jim Walton, the network's former boss, stepped down last year.

When O'Brien saw the direction CNN was going after Zucker took over, she was certain Zucker wouldn't be bringing over his soft-news specialties to the original cable news network.

“I’m fairly confident that I’m not going to be cooking salmon and doing fashion shows on CNN," she told the New York Times in a December interview, adding, “People go crazy with speculation every time there’s a shift in leadership. I can’t comment on every rumor, but so far I’ve read reports on me, Anderson [Cooper], Piers [Morgan], Ann Curry and Erin Burnett, and all that’s clear to me is that somebody’s busy dialing Page Six.”

O'Brien joined CNN in 2003 as a morning host on "American Morning" but moved to hosting primetime specials in 2006. She moved back to the morning spot in 2011 after flagging ratings.

Related stories:

Report: CNN's Zucker Looking to Poach Cuomo From ABC

Struggling CNN Is Courting Former NBC Universal Chief Jeff Zucker


Soledad O'Brien Returns to Mornings at CNN

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