Soledad O’Brien is Betting on CNN Staying Hard News Focused

By Chris Ariens 

Soledad O’Brien is profiled in next Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, online now. And she’s betting her hard-earned CNN dollars that under Jeff Zucker, CNN won’t look like “Ice Road Truckers” a year from now.

NYT: When you were weekend co-host of “Today,” you said that the recognition you got for softer stories, like one about a trapeze school, felt “a little hollow.” Would you be willing to go lighter now?
O’Brien: I’m fairly confident that I’m not going to be cooking salmon and doing fashion shows on CNN.

NYT: But Zucker has said that CNN is not only competing with MSNBC and Fox News but also with History and the Discovery Channel, which produce shows like “Pawn Stars” and “American Chopper.”
O’Brien: If you’ve ever seen “American Chopper,” you know they have created something that is riveting. I don’t think he’s saying we’re going to do “American Chopper II.” I think he’s saying we are going to assume that everybody is our competition. He knows how to win.

NYT: Your strength is hard news, doing the homework. I’m not convinced these traits are as prized as they once were.
O’Brien: I bet you $5,000 that CNN is always going to be a place for that. I have four kids to get through college, but I can cover that.

NYT: I don’t make TV money. But even though betting has been frowned upon at The Times, I’ll wager $750 that in a year CNN will look much more like “Ice Road Truckers.”
O’Brien: You are so completely wrong. I will take that bet, and I will buy dinner. You should come with a check.