Handicapping Where Brown Will Wind Up On CNN Sked
Now that Campbell Brown has finally made it official that she's bolting from NBC News this week to host her own program on CNN come November, this could be an opportunity for the House That Turner Built to shake up its schedule and bolster its Nielsens without trying to necessarily outfox Fox.
But first things first. November is a month before she's due to deliver her first baby. Does CNN really want to introduce one of its franchise players only to see her disappear for three months? Instead, look for Brown to have her coming-out party sometime next spring, although she told the A.P. she hopes to be back for the big presidential primaries in February.
Whenever she takes up residence in the Time Warner Center, the larger question is where she's parked in the lineup.
CNN could put her on at 4 p.m. and let "The Situation Room" run two hours instead of three, which would mean a lot less padding, punditry and Jack Cafferty.
Or, they could stick Brown at 7 p.m., and have "Situation Room" run continuously 4-7 p.m., while "Lou Dobbs Tonight" goes to 8 p.m., booting Paula Zahn and giving CNN perhaps its best chance to take a run at Bill O'Reilly, while making Nancy Grace and Keith Olbermann chase tail.
Tempting as that may seem, Dobbs is a formidable player at 6 p.m. and has seen his audience continue to grow. CNN may not want to disturb that tentpole and risk losing a chunk of that audience, especially during election season.
Still, merely replacing Brown -- appealing as she might be -- with Zahn is unlikely to be the kick in the ratings butt CNN so badly needs in primetime. "LDT" may be ready for its closeup, and O'Reilly may already be getting a bad case of flopsweat.