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Aaron Brown gets the boot; Coop to take his slot

Looks like outed homeboy Anderson Cooper’s stock is rising. He had been sharing the 10PM Newsnight broadcast with Brown for the last month during Katrina coverage, and CNN noticed a ratings spike, so they rewarded him with Brown’s slot. Read the statement by CNN’s prez Klein — OUCH. (NYT):

CNN ousted its longtime prime-time anchor, Aaron Brown, today in favor of Anderson Cooper, who has received extensive media attention in the wake of his widely publicized coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Jonathan Klein, the president of CNN/U.S., said today that he and Mr. Brown had mutually agreed that Mr. Brown would leave the cable news network because the new CNN lineup left “no options” for a program that would include Mr. Brown. “It is, unfortunately, a zero-sum game,” Mr. Klein said.

The realigned CNN lineup will place Mr. Cooper’s program “360,” which had previously run at 7 p.m. Eastern time weeknights, in the 10 p.m. time period that had been occupied for the last four years by Mr. Brown’s program, “Newsnight.” Mr. Cooper’s program will also expand to two hours, from 10 until midnight. CNN has experimented with that two-hour format over the past month, with Mr. Cooper joining Mr. Brown to serve as co-anchor of the program.

The audience levels for that program have increased markedly in the last month, a development that CNN attributed to Mr. Cooper’s presence. In the 7 p.m. hour, where Mr. Cooper had previously worked, CNN will insert the final hour of its three-hour-long “Situation Room” program with Wolf Blitzer. That program has been running from 3 to 6 p.m. Eastern time each weekday. Now it will run from 4 to 6 p.m., leading into an hourlong newscast anchored by Lou Dobbs, with Mr. Blitzer coming back at 7 p.m. for one more hour.

…Mr. Klein said the moves were made chiefly to elevate the profiles of the two news figures that he said have been growing in popularity at CNN, Mr. Cooper and Mr. Blitzer. “We want to expose Anderson and Wolf to more people,” Mr. Klein said.

He said that Mr. Cooper, who is 38, had so stood out for his “passion and enthusiasm” – especially during the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and its impact on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast – that “his name has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding