What's next for CNN+ talent like Chris Wallace?

The sudden and shocking collapse of CNN+ will reverberate throughout the industry for days, weeks, months and even years to come. With ...


CNN+ Talent

The sudden and shocking collapse of CNN+ will reverberate throughout the industry for days, weeks, months and even years to come. With hundreds of millions of dollars and a massive marketing campaign wasted, the hapless streamer is likely to go down in the books as one of the biggest busts of all time in the cable news world.

Dozens of journalists behind the scenes should be affected, unfortunately – although CNN’s new president Chris Licht I hope keep one’s promise and minimize base damage.

But the story is different for many of the big names involved. In a weird way, some of CNN+’s most high-profile personalities might actually be in a stronger position than ever. At a time when massive changes are surely on the horizon, there are a few CNN+ releases that should play major roles at Chris Licht’s CNN.

There are others, however, whose outlook is a little less clear. The regime has already made it clear that it is not beholden to existing power structures on the network, which means some veterans may find themselves on the outside watching.

Here’s a look at some of CNN+’s top performers and a prediction of what’s to come:

Credit: CNN

Sara Sidner

After years of providing stellar coverage of major events — especially overseas, which is central to the New CNN’s stated mission — Sidner has landed his long-awaited photo to host a daily show on CNN+ and has does a good job. His CNN+ show, big picture, took on the story of the day — and it was a format that suited her well. A weekly magazine, maybe on the weekends (or maybe even Friday nights at 9 p.m., we’ll get to that later), might be a perfect fit for him in the future.

Credit: CNN

Kasie Hunt

The former MSNBC host brings an extremely broad skill set to the table. Indeed, Hunt is more than capable of filling just about any on-air role for CNN – be it as an anchor, correspondent or pundit. The guess here is that she’ll be focusing on the latter, with the network positioning her as a featured panelist on a number of its afternoon shows. But also expect to see plenty of hosting duties from Hunt, with perhaps some work as a Capitol Hill correspondent.

Credit: CNN

Brian Steeler

The future of Reliable sources The host is the most fascinating indicator of where the network is headed under its new management and how much it will truly seek to minimize opinion content. Compared to other network shows, Reliable sources found an audience on Sunday mornings during the 11 a.m. time slot. But the relentless Fox News coverage, which has been a weekly staple of Stelter’s schedule, likely to be considered objectionable by the best shareholder of Discovery John Malone.

Stelter hopes to have a chance to comply with the new mission and see if he can attract an audience without using Fox News as a punching bag every Sunday morning. And indeed, his program has seemed to put less emphasis on Fox in recent weeks and has produced some interesting segments – like a fascinating debate with New Yorker writer Masha Gessen on how Russia should be covered. Still, it’s not impossible to imagine mutual frustration settling in at some point.

Credit: CNN

Kate Bolduan

The status quo should prevail, at least for a while, with the host of the 11 a.m. show At this hour on CNN. But there is an argument to be made – except for Inside politics at noon — the shows that air between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on CNN are all very similar. Bolduan’s incisive interviewing skills set her apart and earn her a continued presence on CNN’s programming. And his CNN+ offer was would have been one of the streamer’s top performers, which makes it likely that his name will feature prominently in Chris Licht’s plan. That said, some sort of retooling of his show may well be on the table — perhaps a change of time slot or the addition of a co-anchor — if only to make his program stand out more in the mainstream. CNN daytime programming.

Noam Galai/Getty Images CNN+

Champion Cari, Rex Chapman, Jemele Hill

Only three episodes of Chapman’s interview have aired, and Champion and Hill’s Speak easily wasn’t even launched at all. But it’s just hard to see any of these three high-profile CNN+ recruits staying at the new CNN for long, given the widely accepted industry buzz that the network is looking to cut opinion programming. Chapman has an affable personality, but his early work was choppy. Champion and Hill, on the other hand, are sure to find a new home soon – hopefully together, as their work together on Vice showed they have great chemistry. (Chief Alison Romainwho was to host a cooking show on CNN+, may also be included in this category.)

Credit: CNN

Cornish audience

Like Champion and Hill, the former NPR host never even had the chance to launch her CNN+ program. CNN’s outlook for Cornish, however, looks much rosier. A program in the style of Cornish’s All things Considered would be a great addition to CNN’s Sunday morning lineup. The network seems to be making room for her somewhere on the schedule, and it would be wise to do so, because she might just be a CNN star.

Credit: CNN

Wolf Blitzer

The cable news legend was the most surprising of all the names on CNN+’s daily lineup. While others like Jake Taper, Don Lemonand AndersonCooper made small contributions, Blitzer hosted a nightly newscast exclusively for the streamer. It seemed strange that Blitzer would add so much to his daily workload, which is why some like our Alex Griffin thought the move from CNN+ may have been part of a plan to phase it out of CNN’s mainstream linear product.

The network strongly pushed back against that premise, insisting that the venerable Blitzer isn’t going anywhere. But while he can have a show for as long as he wants, there’s reason to think that show won’t necessarily be at 6 p.m. CNN could possibly do what MSNBC did with another industry titan, Andrea Mitchelland move Blitzer to lunchtime – to give the lunchtime lineup some gravitas.

Credit: CNN

Chris Wallace

And here comes the most fascinating of all CNN+ releases. The streamer is not. 1 signature star.

As our Alex Griffing pointed out in a column immediately after the streamer crashed, Wallace emerges from the CNN+ mess. with its reputation fully intact, and maybe even improved. Whatever CNN+ news came out in its three weeks on the air, Chris Wallace was the one making it. He showed himself to be very skilled during the long interview and proved beyond any doubt that he should be considered a major player on CNN.

So where does that put him? Does Wallace want to return to his old Sunday morning playground? Trouble is, Jake Tapper has already carved out his real estate there, and Sunday morning just isn’t big enough to the two enemies share.

With the weekday 9 p.m. slot wide open, Wallace makes an extremely logical adjustment. The question is, at 74, does he want to continue the rhythm of a night show? Perhaps, for a shot at prime-time cable news glory. The former Fox News anchor got a ticket to a four-night-a-week program on CNN+, and that might be something he’d be willing to stick with. (A Friday newsmagazine by Sara Sidner would fit nicely into this proposal.)

Moreover, Wallace, in his brief stint, showed that the format works. He stands out as the successor of Larry King that CNN never found. Who is talking to Chris Wallace? was very hit and miss on the guest front. (Joan Collins and Diana of Furstenberg were among the most notable puffs.) But with the considerably larger audience that CNN at 9 p.m. can bring, the prediction here is that everyone will talk to Chris Wallace soon. And he might even be the face of the new CNN.

This is an opinion piece. The opinions expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author.



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