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CNN Cancels Soledad O’Brien Show, Says It Wasn’t Due to ‘Ethnic’ Viewership

The tumult at CNN that has seen several contributors leave the cable news network continued on Wednesday, when Soledad O'Brien's morning show, “Starting Point,” was canceled because her program's small audience was “too ethnic, based on the high concentration of minority viewers.”

Despite ending O'Brien's morning show, a CNN spokesman told Politico on Thursday that "Soledad is very important to the network, and we're discussing various options with her.”

Many staffers at the cable news network were stunned to learn that Vice President Bart Feder had often complained about the audience the morning line-up attracted and were horrified that a CNN executive was squabbling over attracting minority viewers, said Ace of Spades, a poster at Breitbart.com.

CNN employees got the news after the Latina's show concluded on Wednesday, when Executive Vice President Ken Jautz and Feder assured the staff members that their jobs were safe.

Among the many people who responded to the news of the cancellation, Allahpundit wondered:

They canceled it because the viewers were “too ethnic?” Why didn’t they just cancel it because it was terrible?

Blogger Robert Stacy McCain used the opportunity to dub O'Brien “America's Least Popular Cable TV News Personality.”

When the story went viral that the network had ended the program because of its audience's ethnicity, a CNN spokesman responded:

To clarify, Feder’s issue with “Starting Point” was that the audience was too small and happened to be predominately comprised of minorities. A source close to the show insists that the ethnicity of the audience was never the issue, it was the size. Feder in no way meant to imply that the audience was too ethnic.

A look at the ratings of the morning schedule shows that the CNN vice president had a valid complaint.

For the month of January, “Starting Point” attracted an average of 264,000 viewers. MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” got 468,000 and Fox News Channel's “Fox & Friends” had an average audience of 1.07 million. “Morning Express” on HLN (the Headline News channel) attracted 218,000.

Meanwhile, the morning shows on CBS, ABC and NBC had millions more than any of those programs, so it's clear that “Starting Point” was behind everyone except its sister network HLN, which has been moving closer to the CNN program's ratings.

Betsy Rothstein at FishbowlDC asserted: ”From day one, 'Starting Point' was in disarray.”

It wasn’t supposed to debut in January of 2012, but the decision was made to rush it on the air to coincide with the Iowa caucus. From its launch, the show was never fully staffed; all the promises of branding and promotion never materialized; and the constant executive in-fighting over what to do with the show angered its host and staff.

In addition, former CNN managing editor Mark Whitaker preferred the panel format used on Joe Scarborough's “Morning Joe” show on MSNBC while Jautz instead pushed for a two-anchor style.

As Allahpundit notes, it all came down to the difference in buzz between “Morning Joe” and “Starting Point.”

What’s more buzzworthy, a panel featuring Soledad talking to random CNN contributors about the budget, or a panel featuring a former GOP representative telling the press what it wants to hear about how the NRA is going to destroy the Republican Party? C’mon.

As NewsBusters previously reported, O'Brien has regularly asserted the liberal point of view when discussing issues with guests on her weekday program.

During the past month, she stated that she can't understand what's wrong with a gun registry and asked if minorities know the GOP and “decided they don't like you.”

ABC's Chris Cuomo, son of former Democratic presidential candidate Mario Cuomo, is expected to join co-host Erin Burnett, who currently anchors a CNN prime-time hour, in a new morning newscast.