CNN’s Erin Burnett is coming off of a strong October in which her show, OutFront, was the No. 1 cable news program at 7 p.m. in the younger demo that advertisers crave. That achievement represents CNN’s first monthly win over Fox News in the 7 p.m. hour since 2001. Tonight, the show faces new competition as Tucker Carlson takes over FNC’s 7 p.m. hour.
“I am interested to see what kind of show he will have,” Burnett told TVNewser in a sitdown interview last week. “I do think Tucker is a nice guy, quite smart and a good choice. I did always get along well with Greta, and Chris Matthews has always been a mentor to me,” she said of her other cable news competitors. “We will see what happens.”
Burnett made the leap from CNBC to CNN in 2011. It was a risky move. But one that has paid off. “Most of us have been working on the show since the very beginning, 5 years ago, and I think that consistency is key,” Burnett said.
“I also think our show has succeeded in giving the viewer value-added reporting,” said ep Susie Xu. “What I mean by that is we don’t just want to give exactly what’s been reported all day. We want to add something new to the story so that when you come watch us at 7 p.m., you aren’t getting bombarded with what you have been hearing all day. I think for those reasons, you are really seeing the audience responding, and ratings rising.”
A veteran business newser, Burnett had covered Donald Trump for years before his run for the White House. Her access to key figures in the business sphere familiar with Trump has allowed her show to stand out from the competition.
“We were able to bring on some interesting voices, including Barbara Corcoran and Mark Cuban,” said Burnett. “We’ve had Mark on a few times and he has made some real news, and Barbara has known Trump for decades. Richard Branson came on with his story about Donald Trump. Additionally, we’ve had Reid Hoffman (founder of LinkedIn), a Hillary supporter who told us that he would donate $5 million to charity if Trump disclosed his taxes. We also had Tom Barrack, a well-known Trump supporter and real estate billionaire who has known him for 40 years and been instrumental in his campaign. We get voices like that who we feel add a lot to the story.”
Burnett is looking toward covering a Trump administration. She believes the election provides OutFront with a unique opportunity to focus on two areas of great interest to her and her team, economics and national security.
“There’s no precedent for a businessperson like him in the White House, and we will have a front row seat to history,” said Burnett.
“Now, will he execute on his campaign promises? Trade is perhaps the biggest promise. We bring a background to economic issues – and from the question of how renegotiation actually happens, to what it will tangibly mean for Americans, to its impact on Americas relationships around the world – we will cover that. Then there’s Obamacare. There’s the wall. There’s Trump’s comments about Muslim immigration, fighting ISIS and terrorism. We focus on national security as a show and we care deeply about covering the Muslim world.
We will do this more than ever.”