CNN announced this morning that Michael Smerconish will be joining the network to host a Saturday morning show, as well as to “provide analysis and opinion on CNN programming throughout the week.” The move yanks Smerconish away from his affiliation with MSNBC, where he has been a contributor and has guest-hosted “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker issued this canned quote on the matter: “We are thrilled to have Michael join CNN. At a time when the cable news landscape has become increasingly polarized, his independence and passion for reasoned dialogue makes him the perfect fit for CNN.”
Sounds like Smerconish himself! Last April, Smerconish, a longtime radio talent, took his wares to SiriusXM satellite radio, after having worked the radio waves at Philadelphia station WPHT 1210 AM. Upon making that move, Smerconish told the Erik Wemple Blog, “The problem for the country, I think, is that too many [people] cannot differentiate between entertainment and substance. The country is paying a price for this brand of polarized media. … Too many politicians are taking their cues from people with microphones.”
Though Smerconish insisted he wanted to craft a “non-ideological” brand of radio show, his former employer characterized his politics as “left of center.” As noted in this space last year, Smerconish in 2010 bagged the Republican Party following 30 years of “active membership” and explained why in an essay on the Huffington Post: “The national GOP is a party of exclusion and litmus tests, dominated on social issues by the religious right, with zero discernible outreach by the national party to anyone who doesn’t fit neatly within its parameters. Instead, the GOP has extended itself to its fringe while throwing under the bus long-standing members like New York Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, a McCain-Palin supporter in 2008 who told me she voted with her Republican leadership 90 percent of the time before running for Congress last fall.”
In his canned quote for the CNN announcement, Smerconish again focused on the center: “I’ve long wanted to host a program of my own and I’m appreciative of Jeff Zucker for making that dream a reality. I think the type of content I seek to provide is perfectly suited for CNN’s non-ideological brand.”
The accession of Smerconish to CNN may set up a nice little tete-a-tete in weekend cable TV. Over at MSNBC, host Steve Kornacki hosts the well-regarded “Up w/Steve Kornacki” from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Smerconish’s time slot is to be determined, a CNN spokesperson tells the Erik Wemple Blog.
The Smerconish announcement is just another in what will be a year of change at CNN, which recently announced a reshuffling of its daytime programming. Primetime programming has also seen some tinkering, as the network last week canceled “AC 360 Later.“