CNN Takes on Zahn

NEW YORK — In the hours following CNN’s announcement that it had hired Paula Zahn to host a morning news show, her former employer Fox News Channel filed suit against Zahn’s agent N. S. Bienstock for “illegally brokering” their client at other news outlets, a violation of her contract with the network, a statement said.

On Wednesday, FNC announced it fired Zahn, formerly the host of the 10 p.m. news program The Edge with Paula Zahn, for breach of contract. And on Thursday, with much fanfare, Zahn was introduced by CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson as the newest personality to join the network’s fluid line-up. “We are very excited that she’s become available,” said Isaacson.

It has been speculated that Zahn left a $600,000 job at FNC for a $2 million gig at the rival news network, but Isaacson said that the figure is exaggerated. No co-host for Zahn has been named.

As for FNC, Dianne Brandi, vp of legal affairs said, “We consider the acts of N.S. Bienstock to be dishonest, duplicitous and illegal.” Brandi also added that FNC has not ruled out other legal action.

Currently there are four candidates under review to replace Zahn, a source said.

A statement issued on Ms. Zahn’s behalf read in part, “Paula Zahn takes her journalistic and contractual obligations very seriously and has honored her contract to Fox News Channel.”

Besides her Edge duties, Zahn also covered primary elections last year with Brit Hume, FNC’s lead newsman.