CNN Launches a Morning-Show Titanic
At 5:45 a.m. Monday, I got up, fell into my sweats, headed for the treadmill and turned on CNN, just like always. That way, I find out quickly if any catastrophes have occurred during the night.
At 7 a.m. I switch to "Today" on NBC for a news repeat and some fluffier stuff. I don't even know who the CBS morning anchors are. As for Fox, I'm too groggy to separate bias from banter.
The faces that convey my news jolt on CNN's "American Morning" are familiar - usually two chirpy women and a wide-awake guy. These bodies started shuffling a couple years ago: Miles O'Brien, John Roberts, Kiran Chetry, Soledad O'Brien, Carol Costello, Christine Romans, Ali Velshi - who keeps count? - except they got giddier and giddier.
Then, wham! Monday morning, everything changed. Gone was "CNN American Morning," replaced by "Early Start" with (giddier still) Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin from 6 to 7 a.m., then good old Soledad O'Brien solo-hosting "Starting Point" until 9 a.m. The slogan for "Early Stuart is "News A to Z" - the Z, I imagine, being how to pronounce Zoraida, a pluck from NBC in Chicago.
I felt lost, bewildered, betrayed and, most of all, annoyed, especially when Soledad bragged, "We're all girls now."
Big mistake. I march for equal opportunity, but this pushes the envelope over the cliff. What will male viewers say? Just because they enjoy watching smart Barbies in cocktail attire on Fox doesn't mean they don't want a token guy.
Furthermore, racial diversity which, to their credit, has been job one on all networks, exists only subtly in the CNN morning trio. (O'Brien is Afro-Cuban-Australian/Irish, Sambolin is Latina, Banfield is, uh, Canadian).
If Ashleigh Banfield in her Palinesque glasses grated on my nerves on MSNBC, her antics are even harder to stomach before dawn. She'd better settle down before the next tsumani or she'll be following Carol Costello into the sunset.
CNN used to be the purview of statesmanlike Bernard Shaw and Judy Woodruff. Then they promoted Wolf Blitzer, who got so revved working a hot story that I feared for his hyperbole. But at least you got straightforward news dressed in business attire leading off each segment.
Loyalty to the morning shows and evening news runs deep. I'm an NBC gal because while I was in college my summer job was giving guided tours at NBC headquarters at 30 Rock. The guides' locker room abutted the "Today" offices in the Dave Garraway, Jack Lescoulie, Frank Blair, Betsy Palmer days.
When I visit an ABC-inclined friend I miss Ann Curry, less so Matt Lauer and his bevy of lip-glossed elves. Ann Curry on assignment in dangerous places personifies journalism with heart.
I never minded Katie Couric, but I wept when Tom Brokaw ceded the microphone to Brian Williams. But not for long. Brian grows on you. Besides, change hurts less at supper than at breakfast. I know alternatives like PBS exist for really serious newsies. I'm just less willing to try them, maybe because all work and no play isn't the way to start the day.
Hey, that sounds like a slogan - certainly more original than "News A to Z."
Stay tuned. Literally.
Contact Deborah Salomon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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