Leon Harris on Becoming a ‘Real News Grown-Up’

By Alissa Krinsky 

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Former CNN anchor Leon Harris is profiled by the Washington Post‘s Paul Farhi.

Harris tells of a rough childhood due to trying family circumstances, and of his big break at CNN, where he started as a researcher and editor.

After some twenty years at the network, the Iraq War began. Farhi writes that Harris became CNN’s “cut-in king”. Harris instead wanted the chance to report from Iraq, but says he was turned down. “It was clear to me that they didn’t think I was as good as I thought I could be,” he tells Farhi. “I think they thought I was a good guy, a team player, but I wasn’t a real news grown-up. If I didn’t leave, I knew I wouldn’t feel like a grown-up.”

Harris joined Washington, DC ABC affiliate WJLA-TV, where Farhi says he is “its signature face”. Since signing Harris, “WJLA has moved from third in the news ratings to a solid second…”

Asked about the future of television news, Harris is pessimistic. “Now it’s blurred with entertainment. Who’s CNN’s number one news figure? He’s a guy who hosted ‘The Mole’. We all do the same five stories over and over. Six minutes on a story? Forget it. Rwanda could happen today, and we wouldn’t cover it.”

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