Soledad O’Brien Back to CNN Mornings?

By Chris Ariens 

TVNewser has learned the current iteration of CNN’s “American Morning” may be in its final months of production and will likely be replaced by two new shows, one airing from 5am-7amET and another from 7am-9amET.

We’re hearing Ashleigh Banfield, who has been working freelance for ABC News for nearly two years, may be tapped to anchor the earlier hours, while former “American Morning” co-anchor Soledad O’Brien, is being mentioned as anchor of the second two hours.

Banfield, the former MSNBC and Court TV anchor, is under contract to ABC News until the end of the year. O’Brien has been spending the last several years working on documentaries for the “In America” unit. No comment from CNN.


“American Morning,” which airs from 6-9amET, has had a rotating cast of temporary anchors since the departures of John Roberts late last year and Kiran Chetry in July.

“American Morning” — once a solid #2 behind “Fox & Friends” — has fallen behind in the ratings. In August, “American Morning” finished behind MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” for the fifth straight month, with the politics-heavy MSNBC show up +21% year-over-year.

As has happened in the past when shows are canceled, the staff of AM will have to re-apply for jobs after Executive Producers of the new shows are named.

“American Morning” has had at least four anchor teams in the 10 years it’s been on the air. The show debuted on Sept. 12, 2001 with Paula Zahn, newly-hired-from Fox News, going on the air several months before the planned start date due to the Sept. 11 attacks. In February 2002, Bill Hemmer was named Zahn’s co-anchor. A year later, Zahn moved to primetime and Hemmer anchored alongside Heidi Collins, Daryn Kagan and finally Soledad O’Brien who jumped to CNN from NBC News in 2003.

In 2005, Hemmer left CNN for Fox News and was replaced by Miles O’Brien. The O’Brien pairing would last almost two years when in April, 2007, the O’Briens were replaced by Kiran Chetry (who had left Fox News for CNN) and John Roberts (who would later leave CNN for Fox News).