CNN morning anchor Soledad O’Brien is (mostly) on her way out the news network. It’s the latest in a series of high-profile changes made since Jeff Zucker was named CEO of CNN Worldwide last year.
The New York Times broke the news on O’Brien’s semi departure Thursday. “We had conversations in general about my role at CNN,” O’Brien told the Times. “What we ended up with was, they wanted to partner with me, and I wanted to partner with them.” With her own media production company, O’Brien will create nonexclusive documentaries to be shown on CNN and elsewhere.
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Her new production company, called the Starfish Media Group, will distribute those projects, as well as past CNN documentaries like “Gary and Tony Have A Baby,” “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” and “Don’t Fail Me: Education in America.”
“At CNN, I am grateful to have been able to tell often underreported stories and confront difficult topics,” O’Brien said in a release from CNN. “In the new production venture, I will continue to shine a light on what we all find most interesting about America.”
O’Brien’s company launches in June and is already set to produce three new, long-form specials for CNN in 2014, according to the release.
“We greatly value Soledad’s experience, and her first-rate storytelling will continue to be an asset to CNN,” said Zucker. “Documentaries and long-form story telling are important to our brand and we’re anticipating more of what we’ve come to expect from her — riveting content.”
Quoting an unnamed source, The New York Post reported earlier this week that O’Brien “doesn’t seem to fit the direction the network is going.”
Since 2012 when her show Starting Point launched, O’Brien grew notorious for her tense on-air exchanges with political figures, such as with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu.
CNN has undergone a host of changes lately. ABC White House Correspondent Jake Tapper was brought on to anchor his own program; longtime political commentators Mary Matalin’s and James Carville’s contracts were terminated; and Erick Erickson, editor of the conservative blog RedState was also let go.
The fate of the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. time slot that O’Brien’s Starting Point program occupies is not yet known.
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