After rampant speculation fueled by poorly kept secrets, Paula Zahn has resigned from her 8 p.m. ET show on CNN, and will depart the airwaves next week, though her contract with the net runs through the end of the year.
New arrival Campbell Brown will take over Zahn's slot. CNN is trying something, anything, to buck up its fourth-place showing among the cable newsers in that hour. As we've opined in some of the posts just below, putting Brown there once she finally settles in post-maternity leave, is not the best place for her.
As Zahn told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, people watching at 8 p.m. are "drawn to opinion, and that's not what I do."
And good for her, given that Nancy Grace, Bill O'Reilly and Keith Olbermann were picking up that slack. Still, however noble counter-programming might be, the Nielesens didn't give Zahn -- a kind soul in TV land whom I met during my days at CBS -- her proper due.
A shoutfest will also undoubtedly not be in Brown's cards, as that's not where her strengths lie. But the dilemma remains: if people don't want a more-traditional news and analysis program at 8, why prime her for another fourth-place finish for CNN?
Why not put her on earlier, say 4 p.m. or 7 p.m. ET and let Lou Dobbs bark up a storm at 8, while rearranging the slot for "The Situation Room?"
That could still happen, of course, but at the expense of what are likely to be arduous attempts by Brown to first build an audience, only to hope they move with her if Dobbs changes slots.
For the conspiracy theorists out there, it sounds like this was actually a mutual decision for a change, rather than "resign" being a euphemism for "don't let the door hit you on the way out."
Zahn was asked by the New York Daily News if she could have stayed. Her reply:
"The truth is, [CNN President Jonathan Klein] and I have been talking about this for many, many months, and when we started discussions on what the options would be, I'd done them all in a 30-year career," Zahn said. "It was best for both of us to move on."