Just a week into CNN president Jeff Zucker’s tenure, the network’s managing editor and a number of prominent on-air contributors are on their way out.Longtime Democratic strategist James Carville and his wife Mary Matalin are leaving CNN, Carville told TPM Tuesday. The network decided it wanted its contributors to be more available to do live shots, Carville said. He and Matalin live in New Orleans. He added that CNN is interested in exploring panel-based programming, similar to Fox News’ “The Five.” But Carville described the split as amicable. “They wanted to change the look. It makes a lot of sense to me,” said Carville, adding that he “loved” the time he spent at CNN and wishes the network well under Zucker. Before becoming political contributors, Carville and Matalin had prominent roles on the now-defunct CNN program “Crossfire.”
Influential conservative commentator and RedState editor Erick Erickson is also leaving CNN, the network confirmed to TPM. Erickson – who flirted with a primary run against Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) — is reportedly headed to Fox News.
Jeff Zucker / Image via CNN
Erickson was not available for comment, but he addressed his departure from CNN in a RedState post. “It was a very, very difficult decision,” he wrote. The job broadened his horizons, he added, professionally and personally. “For all the hate and angst from a lot of folks on the right over me going to CNN, I know many of the contributors I consider good friends were initially skeptical of my hiring. I had to learn an art form too often missing these days in partisan talk – the art of conversation, particularly with those who might disagree with me. I had to learn to be friends with people who I disagreed with. And I leave deeply caring for those people.”
There were tense moments, too, he wrote. “The first month was tumultuous with several tumultuous times throughout. I liked to think of myself as job security for the public relations department. About the only thing the far right and far left could agree on was that I did not belong at CNN.”
One of departures reported Tuesday came at the executive level, with CNN’s managing editor Mark Whitaker heading out the door. In order for Zucker to be successful at CNN, Whitaker said in a memo obtained by TVNewser, he “deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff.” In a statement, Zucker thanked Whitaker for his time at CNN and wished him luck in the future.
CNN also added one to its ranks, poaching Chris Cuomo from ABC News. In a release Tuesday, CNN said Cuomo – the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) – will have a “major role” in a new morning show and across the network. According to the Associated Press and Politico, he is expected to pair up with CNN’s Erin Burnett to host a new show that will replace “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien.”
FishbowlDC first broke the news of the contributor departures.