This is something I tweeted about yesterday evening (in my frustration) and today, decided to blog about. As was pointed out in the Twitter conversation (which I linked at the bottom of this post), yes, I'm aware Anderson signed a contract keeping him through 2016. However, lately, he just hasn't seemed to be on his game. He always looks exhausted (not that there's really anything wrong with that - it's late in the day, and maybe he's been busy working on the show all day... let's hope, right?), his show has been underperforming as of late, and he never is there to do a live 11pm edition of 360, if the occasion warrants it. I understand if no news is anticipated, he may go home. But if news is anticipated, then he should be on stand by to do a live 11pm 360. (And it isn't like he didn't use to do a live show during the repeat hour before; I can think of numerous occasions when he went live when his repeat was at 10pm, before that hour became AC360 Later).
Last night, for example. It wasn't like they didn't plan it, because they obviously did. AC360 started with Anderson Cooper saying a few things, and then he taped a piece where he tossed over to Wolf Blitzer, live at a flash set in DC. From that point on, Wolf anchored the entire show, with Anderson probably out of the office and at home. Yes, I know Wolf is the lead political anchor, and I know he would probably be anchoring 360 even if Anderson were there. But there's no reason they couldn't have co-anchored it, or something. I mean, Anderson is flown to DC during election coverage, where he cohosts with Wolf, so it's not like CNN keeps AC out of political coverage.
In the Twitter conversation linked to at the bottom of this post, I made the point that Don Lemon was on his show, and so too should Anderson be. It was pointed out that Don's show was in its first run and AC's was a repeat. That's a valid point.
However, it wasn’t like Wolf took over completely (just partially) – Don still did a few stories and offered a bit of commentary when Wolf threw it to him, asking for his opinion since he was “from Harlem”. So there’s no reason, repeat or no, that Anderson shouldn’t be there to do the same.
And this isn’t the first time in recent memory that Anderson has been visibly absent from the 11pm show when news was expected. A few weeks ago, Randi Kaye went live at 11 to cover a press conference that, in the 8pm hour, Anderson reported would occur. But did he stay to cover it? Well, evidently not. And why not? It’s his show! A time before that, he was also gone at 11 and Don Lemon started anchoring. I don’t remember what occasion that was off the top of my head and I can’t find evidence, but I’m positive it happened.
But let’s get to the ratings, which matters a lot to cable execs and investors. Last night, according to DC bureau chief Sam Feist (and this is a claim johnny dollar seemed to disagree with), CNN was the only cable network live at 11pm covering the election primary results. Unfortunately, according to the ratings, CNN had only 53,000 viewers in the key demo, and came in last place, even though they were live and covering the primary. That’s frankly pathetic. (It’s also worth noting at 8pm when Anderson himself hosted, they also came in fourth place).
So, what’s my point? Anderson needs to pick it up, or get out. If he’s going to be the primetime news anchor, then he needs to devote his time and efforts to improving his show drastically. Furthermore, he should be on standby for news at 11pm when news is expected to be developing. If nothing is expected, then yes, he can leave and someone else can anchor. But when it is… There’s no excuse.
(Link to the Twitter conversation from last night in its entirety: click here)