Content

Klein Gone at CNN

9/27/2010 2:28 AM Eastern

Jon Klein, president
of CNN/U.S., is out at the
news network amid a restructuring
at the top of
the company that will culminate
with the creation
of a new executive vice
president and managing
editor reporting directly
to Jim Walton, president of
CNN Worldwide.

Ken Jautz, who previously
ran CNN sister network HLN, will move into Klein’s position,
heading up CNN/U.S. as executive vice president.
And Scot Safon, formerly chief marketing offi cer for CNN
Worldwide, will replace Jautz, becoming executive vice
president of HLN. Both appointments are effective immediately,
and both men report to Walton.

Walton said he is looking at internal and external candidates
to fill the managing editor role.

“We have some folks in-house who will certainly be
considered,” Walton said during a conference call with
reporters on Friday. “We are also going to recruit and look
outside. This is a big job, and there’s no doubt in my mind
that we’ll find somebody great for it.”

Klein’s six-year tenure at CNN coincided with a ratings
free-fall at the network, especially in primetime. Walton
acknowledged CNN’s primetime failures.

“There have been a number of stories over the last few
months about the end of CNN and the doom and gloom,”
Walton said. “I understand it. Our primetime stars are, in
many people’s opinion, the face of CNN.”

In a telephone interview, Klein said his departure,
which he described as “amicable as you can have in
these situations,” was precipitated by the new management
structure.

“They want to bring in a managing editor who is going
to report to Jim and oversee editorial for all the platforms,”
Klein said. “That was not a setup that I agreed with.”

Asked if he thought the network’s primetime ratings
contributed to his departure, Klein said, “I don’t know.
But I don’t think so. We had hatched our plans to address
those issues.”

Although there had been a steady drumbeat in the
media that Klein’s days might be numbered, staffers
at CNN were nonetheless caught off guard by the Friday-
morning announcement from Walton. There was
a sense that Klein would at least be left in place until
the new programming had a chance to debut, multiple
staffers said.

But Jautz is also well-liked within the organization
and many see his ascent as a potential calming influence
for an organization battered by negative media
coverage.

“It’s hard to read about CNN’s woes in [the] press,
especially at a place like this where people sacrifice
so much,” said one staffer. “They miss birthdays and
anniversaries and get sent to really bad places. People
take it very seriously. So you can’t just slough it off .”

Walton said that he and Jautz are fully behind the
new primetime shows developed under Klein’s watch.
Parker/Spitzer, which has disgraced New York governor
Eliot Spitzer and conservative columnist Kathleen
Parker co-hosting a topical program at 8 p.m., bows
Oct. 4. And Piers Morgan, a veteran of the British tabloids
and the acerbic judge on NBC’s America’s Got Talent,
will take over for Larry King in January.


Marisa Guthrie is programming editor of Broadcasting &
Cable.
September