March 28, 2013
Chris Cuomo
Chris Cuomo, CNN’s new morning news guy (Ida Mae Astute / ABC)

CNN announced this morning that Chris Cuomo and Kate Bolduan would be the co-hosts of its much-anticipated new morning show. Put to the side for a moment whether that formula, and the addition of Michaela Pereira of Los Angeles’s “KTLA Morning News” as news anchor, has any chance of success. Consider, instead, a small victory wrapped up in the announcement: It was actually news.

After months of often-correct speculation and thinly sourced media reports about its maneuvers, CNN managed, for the most part, to keep a secret. “That’s what we hoped for,” Jim Murphy, senior executive producer of the program, told the Erik Wemple Blog this morning. How did they pull off this modern-day media-on-media miracle? “Well, when you have a group of people working together … sometimes you can make this work,” said Murphy. “The talent involved was really careful about doing this quietly.”

And that’s a lot of folks. Murphy said that at least 10 broadcast professionals came in to test their chemistry alongside Cuomo, who previously worked as news anchor on ABC’s “Good Morning America” as well as co-anchor of “20/20.” Murphy was senior executive producer of “Good Morning America” from 2006 to 2011.

When asked about pulling CNN’s morning performance out of its ratings chasm, Murphy declined to comment. He’s too busy planning, he said, to deliver a verdict on what kind of numbers would qualify as a win for CNN. As for topical emphases, Murphy told the New York Times’s Brian Stelter that the show” ‘will not be all politics like MSNBC is,’ referring to ‘Morning Joe,’ or ‘as consistently about social issues as Fox is,’ referring to ‘Fox & Friends.’ ” Not that the quirky, popular and often factually bankrupt “Fox & Friends” could be duplicated, imitated or emulated by any programming entity on earth.

Murphy said that morning competition comes from not only the usual suspects but also ESPN and other cable offerings, including channels that show morning-movie fare. In so saying, he channeled the thinking of CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, who has spoken at length about CNN’s far-flung eyeball rivals. Zucker, too, is a morning TV guy, credited for executive-producing NBC’s “Today” show to a.m. ratings preeminence.

Though Murphy sounded like a major-broadcast network veteran when talking about the imperative of morning programming — “In the end, morning television is about coming to a place that they want to listen to, a conversation they like, people they like,” he said — he expressed no illusions about “climb[ing] to some mountaintop where cable overtakes broadcast shows.”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.