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More cable TV news post-election jockeying: John King takes over Sundays for CNN



Johnkingmagicwall_2  This is the reward for mastering the magic wall: CNN today named correspondent John King as anchor of four hours in its Sunday news block, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., succeeding weekday anchor Wolf Blitzer.

The change gives rising CNN star King -- basically, the cablechannel's version of David Gregory; a relatively young, talented reporter -- a permanent anchor home. It also allows Blitzer to back off the Tim Russert-level schedule he had, anchoring weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. on The Situation Room, plus the Sunday gig, which he kept up for 11 years.

Here's what King had to say about it all on CNN's air today: "We're going to stretch out Sunday morning a little bit more to try to take advantage of the excitement we learned was in the country during the campaign when CNN broke records in viewership.  There's a new administration coming to town.  We view it as a great opportunity to use our reporters, to use our political team, to do the newsmaker interviews and analysis here in Washington.  But also, at this exciting time of a new administration, to hold it accountable, to go out in the country and see if the promises are being kept, to look at Barack Obama and the new Congress, Democrats and Republicans, through the eyes of the people who were involved in this election.

So we believe we built credibility with our audience during this election season, and now we're going to try to have a conversation with them on Sunday mornings, with some here in Washington and some getting out in the country..."

Media critic Howie Kurtz will keep his Reliable Sources show at 10 a.m. Sundays and King will retain his title as chief national  correspondent. CNN hasn't yet revealed the name of King's new show, expected to debut in January. It also hasn't revelaed how King will dovetail with Kurtz's show; currently, Kurtz is the sole host with newsbreaks read by anchors inside the show.

It will also feature King's "Magic Wall" work, along with some of the other technology toys CNN developed during the election (as other blogs have snarked, it's ironic that the channel moved to eliminate its science and techology reporting unit as it moves to showcase its own technology in King's new show).   

Expect more ironies like this, as news outlets move to reposition reporters who gained prominence during the election for coverage of the new administration.

Here's the release:

Wolf Blitzer Re-ups; John King Takes Helm of New Four-Hour Sunday Program

Johnking Following an election year in which its innovative coverage set new records for viewership and outdrew both the broadcast and cable news networks on Election Night, CNN is ensuring that Wolf Blitzer will continue serving as its lead political anchor through the next presidential race, while tapping John King to lead a bold new Sunday block of political programming.

Blitzer, who led CNN’s election coverage, has extended his contract as CNN’s lead political anchor and will continue to anchor the 15 hours of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, which airs weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. (ET). Throughout November, The Situation Room was the No. 1-rated weekday news program in all three hours among the key demo.

Following his break-out reporting during the election season, King will take the helm of a new Sunday four-hour news block from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (ET), debuting in January. The program will offer a unique blend of newsmaker interviews, political analysis, national and world affairs, cultural segments, media analysis and commentary.    

“Wolf will continue redefining political coverage on television, as he’s done so successfully during this election. Wolf has driven CNN’s election coverage to No. 1 on primary and election nights and he has built The Situation Room into a dominant weekday program,” said Jon Klein, president of CNN/U.S. “We are reinventing Sunday mornings around the best political reporter of his generation, John King. He has stood out throughout the election as the single best connected, most knowledgeable source of what’s going on and why, and this new program is an opportunity to showcase those strengths throughout the entire year.”

The first hour of the new program will focus heavily on politics and the new administration, while the later hours will delve into national and world affairs and commentary on current events. The four-hour programming block will also include Reliable Sources, hosted by Howard Kurtz, which will continue as an hour-long examination into the intersection of the national media, politics, and the hottest topics in news.

In addition to utilizing CNN’s unparalleled, worldwide newsgathering resources, King will integrate extensive reporting from the field nationally and globally. King will also incorporate innovative “Magic Wall” technology, which was instrumental during coverage of the 2008 election, to visually enhance reporting and story-telling.  The program also will offer up thoughtful conversation with regional experts, pundits and CNN analysts and contributors.

As CNN’s lead anchor for the network’s political coverage, Blitzer has moderated several of CNN’s presidential primary debates and anchored coverage of the key primary and caucus nights as well as Election Night 2008. Since joining CNN in 1990, he has interviewed some of recent history's most notable figures including President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and former presidents Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. Blitzer has also interviewed many foreign heads of state—former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, former South African President Nelson Mandela, among them—from locations around the world.

King, who joined the network in 1997 after a 12-year career at the Associated Press, will continue to hold the title of chief national correspondent in addition to his new role as anchor.  He was an integral part of CNN’s innovative “America Votes 2008” coverage of the presidential campaign, traveling to important early election states to cover and interview major candidates, breaking news about campaign developments and pioneering the use of the CNN “Magic Wall.” During his time at CNN, he also served as the network’s senior White House correspondent. The 2008 campaign marked the sixth presidential election King has covered. In addition, he has reported extensively across the United States and the world, including the first Gulf War, the war in Iraq and the Southeast Asia tsunami.

CNN Worldwide, a division of Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner Company, is the most trusted source for news and information. Its reach extends to nine cable and satellite television networks; one private place-based network; two radio networks; wireless devices around the world; CNN Digital Network, the No. 1 network of news Web sites in the United States; CNN Newsource, the world’s most extensively syndicated news service; and strategic international partnerships within both television and the digital media.


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:53pm]


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